With Evolve, Jackiem Joyner elevates his game to the next level to stand along side some of the finest contemporary saxophone players and deservedly so. Sometimes the artistic evolution of an artist can be every bit as interesting as their music, here we have both. This is a Jackiem Joyner joint from start to finish as he wrote, produced and arranged all 11 songs. A textured organic quit that embraces a plethora of styles but with a lyrical synergy that pushes the sound to that new sound that the more traditional smooth jazz artists desperately need to showcase in an effort to elevate their craft for an audience that too is evolving, this is where Jackiem hits sonic gold.
Diversity is the key on this stellar release. "Generation Next" is an urban groove with a buoyant string section that adds a marvelous counterpoint to Joyner's melodic journey. "Europa" is a contemporary urban number with a cameo from Keiko Matsui that goes a surprisingly organic route. Going to the other end of the spectrum we have "Born To Fly" with a rock edged Linkin Park vibe with an harmonic progression on steroids approach while remaining oddly cinematic in nature. There is a flow with Evolve and ample opportunity for the listener to dial in to the lyrical roads less traveled by some artists while Joyner goes full steam ahead. "A Gentle Walk On The Water" is an exquisite piano / saxophone duet that further seals the creative deal that should Evolve as one of the top release for 2014.
Jackiem Joyner teams up with a great cast of musicians on Evolve including Kayta Matsuno and Kyle Bolden on electric guitar, Tim Bailey on bass, Raymond Johnson drums, Bill Steinway on keyboards, Gerald Albright on tenor sax, Keiko Matusui on piano, Paul Nowell on trombone, Ilya Serov on trumpet, and Matt Hamel on all instruments except saxophone on “Later Tonight.” The talent included as part of the album’s line-up is apparent from start to finish and fans will be pleased to know that they’ll get the same experience live – many of the musicians on the album are the same performers whom join him on the road as part of his tours.
Diving into the music, there are definitely a number of tracks that caught my attention on the album, particularly “Generation Next,” “Evolve,” and “A Gentle Walk on Water.” There’s definitely a nice mix on the project, Joyner succeeds in transitioning from the more contemporary, urban tracks such as “Double Bass” to the more rock-oriented “Born to Fly” and to the R&B influenced “Interlude” and “Later Tonight.”
Now in his mid-30s, Virginia-native Jackiem Joyner, has joined the ranks as one of the leading performers in contemporary jazz. He got his start when released his first album, “Babysoul,” in 2007, earning recognition as the Debut Artist of the Year from Smooth Jazz News. He went on to score two #1 hits on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz charts with his sophomore album “Lil’ Man Soul.”
Joyner states that the tracks on Evolve were written with live performance in mind, and in the clip below you’ll see he succeeded in penning tunes that are perfectly suited for the energy required on stage.
01 Generation Next
02 Europa (feat. Keiko Matsui)
03 Double Bass
06 Born to Fly
08 Later Tonight
09 See Through Me
10 Big Step (feat. Gerald Albright)
11 A Gentle Walk on Water
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