Javon Jackson – For You – Solid Jackson SJ 1003 – 53:57 ****1/2:
(Javon Jackson – tenor sax; Jeremy Manasia – piano; David Williams – bass; McClenty Hunter – drums)
It wasn’t that long ago that Javon Jackson was one of the emerging young lions on the tenor sax. Time certainly has flown, as at age 53, he more than qualifies as a seasoned veteran with considerable chops, and a 20 CD resumé as a leader. He combines soulful old school chops, with a hard bop mastery of his horn. Javon played tenor in one of the last Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers aggregations from 1986-1990, and followed up with a stint with Elvin Jones. That’s about as good as it gets as a finishing school to prepare oneself to have an active jazz life.
Javon has his own record company now (Solid Jackson), and his new release For You, is his third for this label. It is a mix of his own compositions, as well as tracks from Cedar Walton, Wayne Shorter, David Williams, and a chestnut from Jerome Kern. What all songs have in common is soulful, glorious hard bop based music, that we all loved back in the late fifties and sixties on classic Blue Note Records issues that set the standard for this idiom. Personally, I love this genre and it is hard to find in today’s jazz issues. This is feel good music of the highest order, and Jackson’s quartet delivers the goods in an issue to treasure along with your older hard bop favorites!
“I’m Old Fashioned” from Jerome Kern has a soft swing that sets the pace for what is to come. The rhythm section takes the first two and a half minutes, before Javon steps in with a warm inviting tone. “My Man Hubbard” is a tribute to Freddie, hard charging like Mr. Hubbard. McClenty Hunter’s shimmering cymbal work shines, keeping the groove.
“Backstage Sally” from Wayne Shorter’s 1963 tenure with Blakey, has that blissful vibe of vintage Blue Note, and pianist Jeremy Manasia acquits himself well, while Javon glides over the changes. “Mr. Sanders” written for Pharaoh Sanders, mines the spirituality that was Sander’s trademark. Jackson has the ability to help us experience the “keening” tenor tone of Pharaoh. “Sun Up” is an ode to early morning creativity, while “Simple Pleasure” from the pen of Cedar Walton, has the catchy melody that Walton brought out so often in his compositions.
“Lelia” was written by Javon in memory of his cousin, and is a delicate ballad, both reflective and gentle, to honor her memory. “Native Son” from bassist David Williams, has a calypso rhythm with a steady groove, especially in its theme. It is something that Sonny Rollins did so well. “Holy Land” another Walton treasure, has a recognizable melody that brings on a mood of elation. Bassist, David Williams, is featured here.
Jackson closes with “88 Strong,” a tribute to McCoy Tyner, and is just as intense as the chordal genius it honors. It is a great finish to a fine album that will please both hard bop, and tenor sax jazz lovers. Highly recommended…
I’m Old Fashioned
My Man Hubbard