The instrumental and vocal songs that fuel Jessy’s albums with both Latin influences as well as mainstream jazz come to her as effortlessly as a spray of Latin samba capping a jazz wave. And it’s a tide that seems set to keep on going. –Gainesville Sun
Jessy J’s “Second Chances” is an album to put on before, during, and after a hot date, if you know what I mean. The hot, young contemporary jazz sensation has already hit the top of the charts with the sizzling foreplay, “Listen 2 The Groove,” featuring Grammy-winning keyboardist/producer Jeff Lorber.
Jessy J and Lorber’s hit song sets the mood for the rest of the Latin-jazz/R&B album. An L.A.-based session player, saxophonist Jessy J wraps herself around every sensuous note as if born into the role of the Femme Fatale artist, with Lorber responding in kind. By the time “Dos” sneaks up, a cold shower isn’t out of order.
Jeff Lorber isn’t the only big name on Jessy J’s fourth release — out officially since September 10, 2013. She’s got some powerful male voices coming in from the broad side: Grammy Award-winning guitarist Norman Brown, former Yellowjackets’ bassist Jimmy Haslip, and the Joe Sample on piano, as well as some keen members of her core, power band (Bryant Siono on bass, keys, electric guitar, and trumpeter/singer Johnny Britt strike several adjunct chords throughout).
“Second Chances” out on Shanachie Entertainment marks Jessy J’s next musical foray, spinning jazz and Latin rhythms with that indefinable, but lingering R&B groove — as a producer for once. Doing the record also gave the hitmaker a chance to play with two of her heroes, Lorber and Brown.
Jessy J only recently began charting high in contemporary jazz with her self-produced 2008 debut album, “Tequila Moon.” But that debut album racked up a wonderful debt of critical and popular outpouring, from Radio & Records and Billboard recognition to more albums — “True Love ” and “Hot Sauce ,” following that Latin-jazz rhythm she grew up with and loves so much — to an eventual meeting of the minds with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler on American Idol (where she works as a studio musician) for his latest band album.
“Second Chances” is Jessy J’s. She said this is hers after having “messed up” the “first time. In this case, for me it was with something that happened the previous year. I realized that this year I had a second chance and every day is new, is fresh. The title track is really an inspirational song about doing something you really want to do.”
Known for playing the hell out of her sexy saxophone along firm jazz and Latin rhythms, Jessy J sought to include the R&B hook in this new album filled with — oddly or intentionally enough — titles of two. Of the 10 songs, only two are covers (Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” done with an impossible amalgam of innocence and knowing, and Sérgio Mendes’ bouncy “Magalenha,” showing off Jessy J’s bilingual vocals), and eight are original compositions by the solo artist, with some help from her band. “I like to play music that people will recognize and connect to and be familiar with and also play music that’s original, that really inspires them and creates new memories,” she described.
If Ada Rovatti (Brecker Brothers) is serious business, Jessy J is a good time (“Mambo Gumbo,” ladies and gentlemen).
Jessy J’s latest album dresses up the sax for a night on the town, slow dancing under a full moon, strip teases and a nightcap by the bed. Strictly booty call material.
Jessy J clearly handles her sax like a woman, not a man… an ardent lover full of fire, enveloping every note, melting away inhibitions rather than flexing and ripping sheets. A woman can uncover a lot more than a man, as is evidenced by the threesome interplays on “Double Trouble” with Lorber and Haslip. As stalwart and frenetic as these guys are — Lorber co-wrote the song — they fade into the background as Jessy J steals the show with her mesmerizing theatrics, strong, pliable tones and quick-silver mood changes.
“Tango For Two” explodes with a piano version of the dance. Brilliant realization from concept (Jessy J, Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip) to execution. Usually known for, not always in the positive, busy key work, Lorber maintains amazing, spare restraint, going in when necessary, to breathe life. Haslip infused “a very interesting knowledge of Latin rhythms and a world music view,” turning this romantic tango up. Jessy J’s grasping, gasping saxophone here brings to mind a pleasuring factor that’s hard to resist.
“Magalenha” shows she can blow with the best of ‘em (on alto/tenor/baritone sax and flute). It’s her one, solid foray into serious jazz, lightened with the Brazilian-feeling vocal breezes, in a song she knows inside and out, as a favorite Brazilian soundtrack. Recording this favorite turned into a “jam session vibe” at the studio with Lorber and Haslip wreaking that funk samba.
Jessy J’s “La Luna Feliz” is the better for the spangled guitar solo (Tim Stewart!). Jessy J can cloak her sax around any song, any interplay. The overall effect is that of a warm bath on tenor sax/flute and Spanish vocals.
“Twice” is very nice. Credit Johnny Britt (Josh Groban, the Temptations) with half the songwriting, as well as on “Second Chances.” Jessy J on tenor sax in this last track just glides, as do guitarist Michael Angel, percussionist Richie “Gajate” Garcia, and bassist Frank Abraham, her touring bandmates. Choral vocals hover on top of the layers of syncopated, Latin-esque rhythms. She plays like she’s dancing a samba on clouds. The melody embodies sweeping, vibrant, positive hope, a righteous ending to the fruits of her “Second Chances.”