Is the smoot-jazz world ready for another twentysomething saxophonist? In 2004, Eric Darius burst on the scene and has since scored several smooth jazz hits and joined the big boys on lucrative summer tours. In 2007 we have Jackiem Joyner, a 27-year-old, fresh talent signed to Rick Braun and Richard Elliot’s ARTizen Records. Joyner is already a veteran of the smooth jazz scene, but in the background, performing on stage with Bobby Lyle and Marcus Johnson, among others. Now, with his debut, Joyner demonstrates he’s ready to step out in front for smooth-jazz fans, who will no doubt return the love.
Joyner mixes up Babysoul with some tempting flute playing and is obviously influenced by veteran sax/flute guy Najee. But with his long sax lines and peppy rhythms, Joyner’s style is closer in style to that of fellow sax man Kim Waters. “This Time Around” and “Stay With Me Tonight” are representative of Joyner’s softer side, the latter with Peter White’s nylon-string guitar imparting a comfortable familiarity. To Joyner’s credit, the 11-song CD is bound with cohesiveness, relying on mostly midtempo numbers and tight rhythm sections. He’s obviously comfortable in concentrating on the groove and not so much on displaying chops. That may come with the next CD.
Meanwhile, Joyner’s polished, upbeat and urban smooth jazz should be extremely popular at summer festivals.