Wow! What a discovery! I was at the Berks Jazz Festival last week. Unfortunately, I was only able to spend two of the festival’s ten days taking in music. Simultaneously I realized that Peak has released the debut of 26-year-old saxophonist Jessy J, who also was to appear at Berks as part of the Guitars & Saxes show. What a debut, from the opening throaty chords of “Tequila Moon,” I knew I was going to like this woman. I’m not sure the last time I’ve gotten this excited over a debut by a young sax player. Jessy J, under the ever-watchful eye of Paul Brown, exhibits maturity on her instrument beyond her age. I can’t help but make the comparison to Grover Washington, Jr. – and that’s a good thing! The album Tequila Moon has a definite Latin lean to it, but in a very sophisticated, intense, contemporary jazz way. This album just feels different – unlike anything that’s been released the last few years – smoky, intense, throaty, complex, and sexy. On top of the blowing, this girl can sing as well! This just might be the best all around contemporary jazz release of the year so far.
[This is an archived review I wrote at some point between 1997 and 1999.]
The ads for Boney’s first holiday release call this “the album to put on after you put the kids to bed.” Sure enough, Boney’s Funky Christmas features the seductive grooves you know the saxman for. This is the smoothest Christmas release I’ve heard in the last two years. Boney’s stamp on these songs (mostly traditional holiday tunes) is distinctive and the rhythms and production by his longtime producer, Paul Brown are top notch. Boney is especially tender on the Chris Eaton/Amy Grant composition “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song).” He has able assistance on the album from guest vocalists Dee Harvey (on “This Christmas”) and Bobby Caldwell (on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”). Rick Braun guests on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Although the other eight tracks are in the silky r&b vein, Boney also tries his hand at a stripped down sound with just him and percussionist Paulinho Da Costa on “Jingle Bells.” Overall, this is one of the most solid contemporary jazz holiday releases and one that will be enjoyed for years to come.