Fortysomething saxophonist Eldredge Jackson breaks out on his solo debut with a big assist from basketball-pro-turned-smooth-jazz-star Wayman Tisdale. It was only natural that Tisdale would produce Listening Pleasure. He’s been Jackson’s friend since middle school in Tulsa, Okla., and the two frequently gig together in their hometown. Jackson has a rich tenor sound, not unlike that of Euge Groove and Kirk Whalum, and the CD is a surprisingly listenable jazz/R&B entry.
Tisdale may help Jackson get his name to stick out in this crowded field. His influence is felt immediately with “I Like That.” His plucky bass opens the song, and he also strums some guitar and adds a vocal refrain. Eldredge’s fans already know about “Git Wit It,” a popular live tune co-written with Tisdale, and the sensual “Love You Eternally,” where live Jackson invites a couple onstage to sit at a table for two while he serenades them.
Jackson throws in two chestnuts for the old-schoolers: Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You.” Surprisingly and winningly, the latter is charged up with a funky intensity that Jackson makes his own. Even better is a remix of the song that jumps and pulses.