"Jessy J reflects glamour & feminine strength"
- People Español
What do you do after celebrating over a decade as one of contemporary jazz’s top saxophonists, known for your trademark blend of sensual Latin tinged powerful horn playing which garnered 12 top singles and 6 chart topping albums? You tap into your longtime love for the vibrant soul and blues energies of the 60s and 70’s to release your first studio album in six years BLUE, an album of original songs totally stylistically different from your previous recordings as evidenced by the cover art reminiscent of some of the great albums of that era.
Driven by a fresh spark of creativity due to the isolation she felt during lockdown, Jessy set out to create an album full of James Brownesque drums and tasty/bluesy Ray Charles organ licks showcasing some of her most passionate and robust tenor playing ever. “The tone for BLUE was set when I wrote the track “Spinnin’,” whose high energy old school vibe was about me pouring out my frustration over cancelled gigs and sudden lifestyle adjustments due to lockdown,” states Jessy. “Overall my playing on the album reflects fourteen years of growth as a musician and songwriter, which feels normal considering how young I was when my first album came out. I always want to be evolving as an artist and producer. BLUE is very different from my earlier albums because it’s a snapshot of where I am now in my life and how I was feeling during these difficult times.”
The result is anything but sorrowful. If anything, from the raw, sizzling horn-fired Crusaders-esque jam “Dig It” (a co-write with Jeff Lorber and BLUE’S first single) through her fast paced, discofied and thumping “Dance Beat,” it finds the artist letting loose, setting her musical spirit free and celebrating the start of a time of exciting new possibilities, while retaining some of her trademark Latin influences and traditional jazz and swing elements on later tracks.
One of the unique aspects of recording during this time was the ability to record remotely via digital file transfer and sometimes FaceTiming with the other musicians in different locations – resulting in a truly international affair. In addition to “Dig It,” Jessy co-wrote and co-produced the wildly funky Cannonball Adderley influenced “Malt Shop” with Jeff Lorber, sending tracks back and forth from across L.A. County and having her friend Ludovic Louis create his improvisational trumpet blasts from Paris. Likewise, multi-instrumentalist Thiago Pinheiro contributed his keyboards, strings, drums and percussion programming on “Dance Beat” from Brazil.
Starting with “Spinnin’,” Jessy created the five other tracks on BLUE remotely in collaboration with veteran pianist and arranger Jay Rowe (who previously appeared on 2018’s Live at Yoshi’s 10th anniversary celebration and 2016’s California Christmas) along with his Connecticut based crew of bassist Dave Anderson, drummer Trever Somerville, guitarist Andy Abel. Contributing to the project’s dynamic stylistic diversity, these songs include the hard driving, horn filed title track featuring Jessy on tenor, alto and baritone saxes and flute; the gently Latin-spiced “Summer Swing,” a silky modal jazz meets swing tune influenced by Herbie Hancock’s mid-60’s Maiden Voyage era sound; the fiery, joyously infectious “Mini’s Bounce,” written for Jessy’s beloved German Shepherd Mini and whose rhythms were inspired by the way she walked; and “Song For David,” the fascinating closing piece written for her firstborn son, who was at the piano with her when she wrote it. Shifting back and forth throughout from a lyrical, easy swaying ballad to a snappy, swinging jazz quartet, Jessy captures the boy’s constantly shifting sense of energy – from calm to playful to curious to frustrated.
“I just love the way Jay plays and intuitively understands what I’m going for,” says Jessy. “I would record the song on piano, write out the chart and send it to him. He then recorded with his group in Connecticut and I followed recording my sax parts in my home studio. Jay added strings and I would then get it to percussionist Richie Gajate Garcia for final touches. I have always loved working with musicians live in the studio throughout my career, but once we got in the flow, I really enjoyed this unique process.”
Born in Oregon and raised in southern California of Hispanic heritage, Jessy is grateful that her Hispanic fans have been inspired by her love of these musical roots. A jazz studies graduate from USC, Jessy paved the way for her success recording with Michael Buble and touring with Jessica Simpson, The Temptations and Michael Bolton.
Starting with the immediate #1 Billboard chart success with the title track from her debut album Tequila Moon, the powerhouse saxophonist cemented her rising stardom touring with contemporary jazz greats like Lorber, Gerald Albright, Euge Groove and Peter White, She is seen regularly performing on the hit television competition shows “American Idol,’ “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars,’ and in more recent years has toured with Anita Baker, recorded with Robin Thicke and contributed as composer/performer to the albums of two members of Chance the Rapper’s band - the GRAMMY® nominated Intellexual album and The Juju Exchange’s Exchange.
In conjunction with the release of BLUE Jessy embarks on a U.S. tour throughout the spring and summer. She will also be releasing California Christmas Vol. 2 for the 2022 holiday season.
“Writing and recording BLUE was an extraordinary experience,” says Jessy. “I have missed the connection with my fans so much these past two years. On every level--physical, emotional, spiritual – music plays such an important role in healing us. It’s like therapy, making everything in life so much better and healthier.”