Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

262

Javon Jackson: Have You Heard

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Continuing down the path he laid with '03's Easy Does It, tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson's latest, Have You Heard, is another groove-happy release that turns away from his earlier straight-ahead discs on Criss Cross and Blue Note, moving even further towards a soulful, funky vibe with greater crossover appeal. Lightweight it may be, but it's also a lot of fun and, if assessed on its own merits, successful in an easy-on-the-ears kind of way.

Back from Easy Does It are organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and guitarist Mark Whitfield, with bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Terreon Gully fleshing out the rhythm section. Gully is proving he can handle anything from the cerebral post bop of vibraphonist Stefon Harris' Grand Unification Theory to his more accessible Evolution. Singer Lisa Fischer has worked with everyone from Luther Vandross and the Rolling Stones to Patti Labelle over the past twenty years or so; she adds sultry vocals to the Jackson/Matthews blues tune "Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home," a more vivacious chorus to the disco-fied Roger Troutman hit, "Dance Floor," and some soulful wails on the equally dance-worthy "Funky in the House (reprise)."

Covering material by Curtis Mayfield (the surprisingly up-tempo "Move on Up") and Bobby Womack (the more appropriately soulful and balladic "That's the Way I Feel About Cha'"), the emphasis is on accessibility in the grooves, arrangements, and solos. Jackson's own originals flesh out a programme that also includes an upbeat version of the standard "Summertime," suggesting how it might sound had it been written by Stevie Wonder or Sly Stone, instead of Cole Porter.

Jackson, Whitfield, and Smith contribute appropriately blues-informed solos to the session, but while everyone's playing is strong throughout, nothing really stands out. Less about virtuosity and more about vibe, it's perhaps that very definition that makes the album well-crafted, but more than a little generic at the end of the day. While the playing is too defined and the approach too organic to be classified as smooth jazz, this recording veers perilously close, with most songs relying on catchy vamps and eminently danceable rhythms to maintain interest.

It's not as if other artists aren't incorporating contemporary elements into their music to make it more approachable, but Jackson seems to have done a complete reversal with his past couple of discs—totally rejecting his past, as opposed to finding ways to integrate more accessible concepts with his own style and development.

Still, Have You Heard is never less than engaging, although more of the body than the mind. A little more meat and a bit more spice might make Jackson's attempts at broader acceptance more palatable to both his existing fan base and the new one he's clearly trying to cultivate.


Track Listing: In This Corner; Dance Floor; Have You Heard; Breakin' Up Somebody's Home; Dr. Smith; Summertime; Move on Up; Quik; That's the Way I Feel About Cha'; Funky in Here (reprise)

Personnel: Javon Jackson (tenor saxophone); Lisa Fischer (vocals); Mark Whitfield (guitar); Dr. Lonnie Smith (organ); Kenny Davis (electric bass); Terreon Gully (drums)

Title: Have You Heard | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Radio
Live Reviews
My Blue Note Obsession
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
For You

For You

Solid Jackson
2018

buy
Now

Now

Palmetto Records
2007

buy
Have You Heard

Have You Heard

Palmetto Records
2005

buy
Easy Does It

Easy Does It

Palmetto Records
2003

buy

Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Music IS" CD/LP/Track Review Music IS
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 29, 2018
Read "Sonic Fiction" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Fiction
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 4, 2018
Read "Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Lazuli" CD/LP/Track Review Lazuli
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2018
Read "Learn To Live" CD/LP/Track Review Learn To Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 3, 2018