July/August 2003

Paul Jackson Jr.
Still Small Voice
Blue Note Records

Paul Jackson Jr.'s gorgeously melodic guitar lines and exceptional versatility made him an in-demand sideman for Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and practically every other major act you can think of, and he brings his prodigious gifts to bear on his solo album, Still Small Voice (Blue Note).

Jackson exhibits his silky lyricism on the title track, the elegant "Lillian," and his lovely version of Brian McKnight's hit "Back at One," which features his daughter Lindsay on vocals. He turns breezy and buoyant on his version of the Spinners' "It's a Shame" and goes to church for the rousing gospel number "Changed," which features Jackson on lead vocals and Billy Preston on B3 organ and Wurlitzer. As Jackson explains to his son, Paul III, his "Park Tour" trio of tunes salutes the parks he visited as a youth in California: "Athens Park" is a mellow ballad, while "Crystal Park" finds Jackson laying flowing guitar lines over James Manning's bass groove and "Sportsman's Park" (cowritten by Jeff Lorber) is a funky, horn-accented number spotlighting saxophonist Gerald Albright.

Originally published in July/August 2003

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