Javon Jackson – Easy Does It
Easy Does It
(Palmetto – 2003)
by Paula Edelstein
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 “J Soul.”