The article can be found here:
“Many times in jazz the personnel that comes together in a special way is the result of second choices or just plain serendipity. So too with the pairing of Javon Jackson and Les McCann who have been performing together at clubs and festivals, including a recent concert at the Cape May Jazz Festival. Seeing the two mesh onstage, it would be hard to imagine that the legendary McCann was originally a sub or fill-in.”
The article may be found here:
Jazz Improv NY May 2009
Reviewed by Dan Bilawsky
While the second set at the Iridium, on this cool April evening, didn’t start right on time, the music more than made up for this little set back. Once these men were on the bandstand they wasted no time and Cedar Walton announced the first tune, appropriately titled “Cedar’s Blues.” While things seemed tentative at first, the music really loosened up once Javon Jackson let loose with some fine saxophone soloing. Walton threw in a nice chromatic line and created some rhythmic tension during his piano solo and Buster Williams showed great dexterity during his solo spot. Williams can create a sustained note like few others and he can also play loose and flowing when he chooses. Jimmy Cobb had some fun trading twelves with Walton and Jackson and he took an extended solo before the whole band jumped back in to finish things off.
“Holy Land” began with a solo piano introduction and Walton mixed flurries of notes with more measured statements. Buster Williams took the longest solo on this tune and when the rest of the band returned Cobb traded twelve bar solos again with Walton and Jackson. The quartet slowed things down with “Old Folks,” featuring solos from Jackson, Walton and Williams and a closing cadenza from Jackson that could melt your heart. Things really started to cook when the band launched into “Sixth Avenue,” which features a “Sidewinder”-meets-Samba groove that moves into a swing feel at times. Jackson was the dominant voice on the head of this tune. Following a sure-footed solo from Walton, Jackson unleashed some fiery saxophone soloing that really electrified the room. Javon Jackson is something to marvel at, with his impressive ideas, strong technique and a warm tone that is consistent across the whole range of the instrument and through the entire spectrum of dynamics.
Jimmy Cobb took the last solo here before the band brought the song to its conclusion. “Up Jumped Spring,” one of Freddie Hubbard’s best known tunes, was performed in tribute to the late trumpet genius and Jackson caressed the melody on this jazz waltz. Strong solos from Jackson, Walton and Williams added to the magic and this, along with the aforementioned“Sixth Avenue,” proved to be the high points of the set. The band chose to end the evening with some up-tempo swing and the solo action was fierce. Walton and Cobb seemed to enjoy trading solos and Cobb contributed his strongest drum soloing of the evening here, shortly before this dynamic set came to a close.
By: Thomas R. Erdmann
It’s amazing how consistently good Denver-raised, saxophonist Javon Jackson is. His ability, disc after disc, to deliver, at the highest artistic level, music that is not just technically proficient and full of the spirit of jazz’s tradition, but also esthetically pleasing and a whole lot of fun to listen to, is beyond compare. With his latest release, Once Upon A Melody, Jackson again releases another incredible tome of the finest straight-ahead jazz available.
Jackson’s background includes time as a student at both the University of Denver and the Berklee College of Music before joining Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. Since then, in addition to a lot of work as a leader, Jackson has worked with Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Ron Carter and Charlie Haden, to name but only a few of the legends who have wanted Jackson’s unique musical mind and sentiments in their bands . In addition to his performing, Jackson currently teaches at SUNY Purchase.
On Once Jackson is accompanied by totally underappreciated and most assuredly talent-deserving-wider-recognition pianist Eric Reed, young newcomer Corcoran Holt on bass, and drum-percussion jazz legend Billy Drummond. Jackson and band lay out eight standards – or tunes that should be standards – along with two Jackson originals.
The ensemble is so in-sync at times it’s hard to know where one musician ends and the others begin. On ‘Will You Still Be Mine,’ for example, Reed’s slightly pulsative eighth-note chordal fragment alternations behind Jackson fit so perfectly it sounds like one musician subtlety singing his heart out. Then, no matter how many times you listen to this track, you’ll never be able to figure out Drummond and Holt were able to make their accompaniment sound so locked into Reed’s rhythmic framework. Much too rarely can one hear a single intent coming from four musicians to the extent exhibited here, but engaged in the creation of a seamless balance they are.
The same kind of rapport is again heard on Reed’s lilting solo on Jackson’s original, ‘Mr. Jones.’ Drummond is truly the master of understatement that is yet so full of statement you’ll absolutely schedule time to enrapture yourself in his shifting backbeat punctuations that are gloriously both in and out of time at the same time.
Eschewing pomp and flash for tenderness and emotive response, Jackson chooses tunes and tempos throughout that serve the rapport of the members rather than flashy displays of technical mastery. For this the listener is richly rewarded with an hour or so of meaningful jazz you’ll find yourself listening to over and over. Rather than being one those discs, like gum, that lose their flavor after just a few chews, you’ll come back repeatedly.
BACK TO ROCKVILLE
June 17, 2007
The Javon Jackson Group with Dr. Lonnie Smith and Les McCann Jackson’s band definitely plays jazz-funk, but it’s jazz-funk of a sort that includes absolutely nothing cloying or saccharine. The athletic, heavy quartet plays a stripped-down sort of guerrilla funk with as much drawn from James Brown and Fela Kuti as Miles and the genre’s ’70s legends.
They embody the unique combination of warmth and get-on-the-good-foot intensity often found in the best of their style. Jackson’s friendly demeanor and muscular, jocular solos providing the amiability and the fury coming from the truly immense sounds of bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Rudy
Royston, a man who doesn’t play fills as much as he triggers avalanches. Special mention goes to guitarist David Gilmore, who deals with what must be the continual annoyance of not being that David Gilmour in the best possible way: His solos left the people in back going nuts and the people in front scurrying to lift their jaws off the grass.
It’s a well-known legend that Miles planned to record with Jimi Hendrix before the latter’s untimely death, and one imagines that the result might’ve sounded something like Gilmore’s playing Saturday afternoon. He’s harmonically expansive, deeply lyrical, and (when necessary) blindingly fleet. Don’t be surprised if the next guitarist with his name has to live up to his legacy as well as the Pink Floyd Gilmour’s.
Things only improved with the entrance of the legendarily eccentric Dr. Lonnie Smith. He’s the kind of man that can append “Dr.” to his name and wear a turban while performing for, in his own words, “no particular reason” and make both seem logical, even necessary. A true master of the Hammond organ, his rhythmic and tonal acuity are such that he can ride out a single note with a few chord stabs here and there for 32 bars and not only is it not, boring, it’s charismatically arresting.
He almost instantly transformed from the quizzical guy in the turban to Most Benevolent High Priest of Funk, playing in a sort of continual dance with hands-waving benedictions overhead and the organ shouting the cosmic blessings. He ?earned a standing ovation after his first tune.
After a smoking version of the good doctor’s “If You See Kay” (say that slowly to yourself), in which the band vamped unbelievably hard and Smith got further and further out with the bluesy chord changes until they were somewhere in deep space, the assembly was joined by the godfather of soul-jazz, pianist Les McCann.
Though he was led onstage by a flock of assistants, the 71-year old McCann quickly established himself as the group’s rowdiest — and most senior — presence. Not a lot of septuagenarians will introduce themselves with the line, “It’s been a while since I was back in this sad-ass town,” and then let out a gruff cackle, but McCann might as well be 25 for the effect the years have had on his playing and personality.
His pianism still takes the frenzied testifying of a Pentecostal church and plants it firmly in the red-light district, all funky double stops and
All About Jazz
Reviewed by C. Michael Bailey
Javon Jackson – Easy Does It
Javon Jackson’s band on Easy Does It is not unlike the Wayne Shorter-Curtis Fuller Jazz Messengers…both boast superb lineups, but only Jackson and his band are steeped in the 21st Century Groove. Mr. Jackson’s previous five recordings for Blue Note established him as fresh new voice in jazz, unafraid of stirring things up a bit. He took that attitude and shot it at light-speed into the Palmetto studios to produce a funk masterpiece.
Mr. Jackson has chosen the right band for such an auspicious occasion. Dr. Lonnie Smith is a groove physician, prescribing grease and greens to all that wears one down. He provides his blues “If You See Kay” to kick things off. Blues… is that what you call this? Jackson’s own “Papa Lou” is definitely a blues circa 1960s Jimmy Smith.
Mark Whitfield plays an understated role here, providing that necessary guitar groove to pieces like Marvin Gaye’s “Right On” and Jackson’s “Kiss,” adding a little wah-wah to the latter. Lenny White shows why he was so indispensable to Return to Forever’s sound in the ‘70s. Dr. Smith plays orchestrally on every song he touches. On the title cut, his footwork is potent, laying down a mud thick groove over which Jackson and Whitfield converse. Whitfield gets his most authoritative workout here with Jackson playing harmony and beginning what one hopes is a long relationship with the guitarist. Easy Does It is exactly what Dr. Jazz ordered.
Sounds of Timeless Jazz
Lenny White, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Fred Wesley, and Mark Whitfield are just a few of Javon Jackson’s friends that help him pull off a fusion of funk, jazz and soul on his debut for Palmetto Records titled Easy Does It. For those familiar with Jackson’s previous recordings, this CD is a totally new direction and far from the easy pace you may be expecting because of the title.
Most of the songs are funky and soulful with just a hint of jazz. However, several of Jackson’s straight-ahead jazz solos and intermittent solos by Hammond B3 organist Dr. Lonnie Smith and trombonist Fred Wesley such as those heard on “Right On” and “Wake Up Everybody” make buying this CD worthwhile. The instrumental version of this Marvin Gaye hit has a great new arrangement and works on all levels. Jackson plays a haunting, Coltrane-esque introduction on “Wake Up Everybody” and that is about the most memorable jazz moment on this song.
Vocalist Eve Cornelious has a hard act to follow when she brings in her funky rap rendition of how the world’s social ills still permeate the 21st century. Because of this song’s heavy lyrics and the symbolism Teddy Pendergrass conveyed with his exceptional trademark voice, listeners will most likely find themselves reminiscing about how well Pendergrass sang the song instead of hearing Ms. Cornelious’ new rap. The tempo chosen for “Easy Does It” definitely fits the title and the mood of the song. This is just what this CD needed — easy, head nodding, feet tapping jazz. Jackson’s smoky saxophone sound sets a great groove that allows you to just fall in and lay back. Overall, if you want to add this to your list of “funky party favorites,” this CD works well. But for those in a jazzier mood, check out “Right On,” “Easy Does It” and the retro soul/jazz feel of DJ Soul.