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Javon Jackson: Pleasant Valley

Mark Corroto By

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Javon Jackson’s mission is to make a popular record. Imagine that, a non-smooth jazz release that’s hip enough for dad (a sixties guy), yet catchy enough for radio! Jackson, an Art Blakey and Elvin Jones graduate has a pedigree and a sound on the tenor saxophone that’s somewhere between Gene Ammons and Joe Henderson. At 33, he has played the bebop route, and like Ammons or Stanley Turrentine before him he has chosen to explore soul jazz. His latest, a follow up to the fabulous Good People has a reconfigured lineup save drummer Billy Drummond. But he is exploring the same territory, replacing John Medeski with Larry Goldings and Fareed Haque with Dave Stryker. After opening with a serene take on Ellington’s “Sun Swept Sunday,” its all move-yo-butt music. In what one could argue are two modern standards, the band covers Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” and Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing.” Playing the popular tunes almost straight begs for radio play. I’m not complaining, jazz snobs be damned, this is great fun. Jackson and Stryker take us to the Miles and McLaughlin electric days with the title tune and Jackson’s homage to Freddie Hubbard’s electric-fusion days ends the disc. Somewhere we lost the idea that jazz can be popular music, Javon Jackson states his case otherwise.

Track List:Sun Swept Sunday; Pleasant Valley; Hippodelphia; Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing; Jim Jam; In The Pocket; Brother “G”; Love And Happiness; For One Who Knows.


Title: Pleasant Valley | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Blue Note


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