Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole's Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. It was in 2008 that sax player Jessica Spinella, aka Jessy J, released her debut CD Tequila Moon. A range of factors combined to make it one of the most hyped events of the year and less than a year later she was back with her sophomore effort True Love. It moved Jessy J closer yet to her Latin heritage while drawing heavily on Paul Brown's talents as a writer, producer and performer. Brown also played a major part in her 2011 project Hot Sauce so it is something of a surprise that Second Chances, which hit the streets September 10 on the Shanachie label, finds her with new collaborators and new influences. In fact the recording represents a change of direction for Jessy as she sets out to blend her love for jazz and Latin rhythms with an R & B groove.
Take for instance the mellifluous yet urgent title cut, which includes distinctive guitar from Norman Brown or the whimsical 'Mambo Gumbo' that is Jessy's homage to the city of New Orleans and was co-written with Joe Sample and Johnny Britt.
Another formidable writing partnership, Jeff Lorber and Jimmy Haslip, co-wrote and feature on the romantically inclined 'Tango For Two' and these two 'A-List' performers are also around for 'Listen 2 The Groove' that is a tune of which smooth jazz radio listeners will already be familiar. Another song where Lorber and Haslip provide an input is the jazzily complex 'Double Trouble' while elsewhere Jessy uses the Roberta Flack classic 'Feel Like Makin' Love' as an opportunity to utilize her often-underused singing voice.
Talking of classics, Sergio Mendes' seminal 'Magalehna' fits perfectly with Jessy's Latin roots. Throughout her career she has drawn musical inspiration from her Mexican-American heritage. In fact Jessy's Mexican born father and mother have always filled the family home with festive, live Latin music and another number that maintains this 'south of the border' feel is 'La Luna Feliz' which as well as being a top notch slice of contemporary jazz also allows Jessy to handle vocals in Spanish.
Rounding off her quota of Latin inspired music are two of what could arguably be described as the best tracks on the album. Co-written with Johnny Britt the understated 'Twice' is a mellow pleasure but just shading it as Secret Garden favorite is 'Dos' where Jessy shifts effortlessly between flute and soprano sax.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.