March 3, 2007

Jackiem Joyner - Baby Soul

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. Jackiem Joyner is now just 27 years old yet it’s a sign of his amazing maturity that he has been catching the eye with his live performances since 2001. He has opened for India Arie, Boney James, Spyro Gyra and George Benson but was first noticed by Marcus Johnson who hired him as his touring sax-man. Since then this native of Norfolk Virginia has gone on to work extensively with Bobby Lyle, Jean Carne, Angela Bofill and the great Ronnie Laws. Those who saw him perform at the recent 2007 Smooth Jazz Cruise will have marveled equally at his distinctive soulfully urban sound and the way in which he connected with his audience in both the large and small venue settings that this event threw his way. Relocated to LA, and after taking a year out to create his own new music, he is now fashioning an exciting solo career with his debut release for ARTizen Music Group, Baby Soul.

joynerphoto.jpgProduced by Joyner, who also writes ten of the eleven choice cuts, the CD is further improved by ARTizen’s own Rick Braun who executive produces, mixes and variously plays trumpet and flugelhorn on three of the tracks. Together they achieve commendable balance and, with an array of moods and emotions that range from funky dance elements to a more romantic vibe, Joyner always remains soulfully smooth and in control. That said the most up-tempo track on the album is the tight groove driven title cut. It has a compelling thread running right through it and the luscious full sounding ‘Just Groove’ starts out that way too. Helped in no small part by excellent trumpet from Rick Braun, Joyner flatters to deceive by at first toning it down with his cool melodic playing before really blossoming into a funky finale.

Rick Braun is also there for ‘This Time Around’. It has all the rhythm and melody necessary to place it up there with the best examples of good contemporary jazz and these staple elements are also well to the fore with the album’s first radio single, ‘Stay With Me Tonight’. The instantly recognizable Peter White, who has an exemplary record of contributing to the success of many up-coming artists, gets this one moving and his interplay with Joyner is terrific throughout. ‘In Love Again’ is underpinned by a smoky vibe that provides a tasty platform for Joyner’s mellow playing while with ‘Share My Tears’ he turns it down one more notch for a lusciously romantic groove that he gets just right.

The horn driven ‘Lola’ is dappled with Latin influence and skips pleasantly between Joyner’s heartfelt playing and the big brassy chorus. With a freshness that is invigorating this is a track that shows off his versatility and he switches moods yet again for the warmly gentle yet still soulful ‘Innocence’. Joyner stays predictably tight as he ratchets up the tempo for the compelling ‘Elevation’ then deftly changes gears for the album’s one cover, his sultry rendition of ‘Say Yes’. This erotic slow jam was written by Marsha Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart (aka Floetry) and appeared on their 2002 CD Floetic. It’s a candidate for best track on the album and another personal favorite is the mellow ‘Unforgiven’. Right in the pocket from the get-go this slice of retro tinged late night jazz features wonderful flugelhorn from Braun and excellent electric guitar courtesy of Iouri Ionidi.

Due out in May 2007 Baby Soul is an extremely accomplished collection and signals an association between Joyner and ARTizen that could well be a partnership made in heaven. With the nurturing qualities of the label gelling with the obvious talent and sizzling potential of the artist the name of Jackiem Joyner is bound to be around for a long time to come.

For more on the great music available from ARTizen and latest news on Jackiem Joyner go to

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Posted by Denis Poole at March 3, 2007 11:18 AM