|February 16, 2014|
| Review by: Yvette Long Simmons
An Evening with Smooth Jaz saxaphonist Jackiem Joyner at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge but first…
Contemporary jazz saxophonist and local favorite Reggie Smith with his dynamic band known as “Pressed 4 Time” kicked the evening off with their specialty…..a delightful cross sample of smooth jazz and R&B.
The house was packed this Sunday evening… It was standing room only in part due to the President’s Day holiday weekend. Smith’s 2 hour set was a diverse formula with something for just about everyone, for example, a rousing cover of the Beatles “Come Together,” Ronnie Laws’ “Friends and Strangers” which is a true smooth jazz favorite from back in the day and of course Grover’s “Mister Magic” a tune that is held in high adoration and commonly covered by sax players both aspiring and accomplished. Smith has been in this game long enough to know how to reach his audience most effectively giving them just the right mix of party music OR that ‘snuggle up with that significant other’ mellow music. He skillfully glided the honed voice of his sax and delivered his performance with a solid fluidness utilizing phrasing that would be described as articulate and quite catchy.
The band “Pressed 4 Time” is the right fit for Smith and their level of comfort in playing as a unit can be both felt and heard. Bassist Kevin Cooper outdid himself on several short solo’s during the set and once he gets going is quite the showman in his own right.
Also accompanying Smith that evening were Max Zape on keys, Tony Lee on Drums and Brian Adams on percussions.
They have a vocalist too, by the name of Francois Sims. He demonstrated firm vocal charge on dance tunes like “Sir Duke” and Slave’s “Slide” where the energy was so high that every inch of the dance floor was taken up by the party people. Sims was equally effective on the beloved Heatwave ballad “Always and Forever.”
As fantastic as Smith and band were there should be no mistake about the fact that most in the club were patiently … eagerly … awaiting Jackiem Joyner and band’s entrance to the stage. Speaking of “the club,” The storied music staple known as Humphrey’s located on San Diego’s Shelter Island is actually 2 venue’s in one. It is comprised of both a mid-sized outdoor concert area and a more quaint lounge known as “The Backstage Lounge” which was where the action was taking place that evening.
Ironically once Joyner and band took the stage they too sound checked to the tune “Friends and Strangers”. This was an obvious testament of the common love of the song and also of the admiration held by many a sax player for the music and stylings of Laws one of smooth jazz’s early pioneers.
Joyner began his set with a tune called “Take Me There” a bright cut from his 2009 sophomore offering entitled “Lil Man Soul” in which Steinway is cast in the spotlight delivering a riveting keyboard solo. They followed up with the title cut “Lil Man Soul” a nickname adorned on a teenaged Joyner representative of his strong musical style and abilities that were apparent as a child.
As Joyner and band played, in one moment the partiers are literally charging the dance floor to “go for what they know” but in the next moment they are relaxing at their tables immersed in Joyner’s interpretation of Gerswin’s classic Aria “Summertime”. While performing this song Joyner really pushes home his identity as a saxophonist amongst a plethora of other exceptional sax players. His performance and approach were refreshing and they are designed to easily draw one in..
When Joyner next slid into “Generation X” a song from his new CD (entitled “Evolve”) scheduled to drop on April 29, the harder edge to it was a nice detour from more familiar sounds. There was also an energy about the song that seem to further energize the crowd.
So now he is settled in and ready to take us to a greater high as he dives next into the classic R&B but still jazzy “People Make The World Go Round.” Joyner is now completely OWNING the evening with authority. Could it get any better? YES… Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” catapults the evening into a “Dance Fever” like euphoria (minus the 3 piece suits, satin shirts and “Angel Flights” of course!)
To describe Joyner’s performance in a nutshell… He simply KILLED it. At times it seemed as though he were in his own space transcending the lounge. From his beginning in the world of music Joyner has displayed a passion for his craft that has only burgeoned over the course of his still young music career. To think that he is only really just getting started.
For more info on Jackiem Joyner visit his website HERE.