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Jackiem Joyner : Jackiem Joyner

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Maybe smooth-jazz saxophonists with an R&B feel are slowly, finally, realizing that what’s come before just ain’t doing it. One listen to the first track from Jackiem Joyner’s third CD holds out hope. “The Reunion” has hyper-staccato drum patterns, a thick funk beat and a progressive mentality sorely lacking in the genre. Joyner’s sax playing is actually pretty standard, but that’s no doubt his concession to the smooth gods.

Heavy beats and drums are a big theme. “Dance With Me” opens with a flamenco-guitar flourish and teases with its Latin percussive elements. “Push” indeed pushes out an insistent thumping rhythm, and includes sax growls and arena-rock guitar licks. Even ballads like “Home” have weighty, insistent drum patterns, the kind top R&B producers are so fond of.

There are two covers: Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” has the nodding disco syncopation and snaking basslines you’d expect and joyous sax lines by Joyner. The second cover is of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” and Joyner gives it the anthemic touch it deserves.

Did we mention no vocals? That’s right, not even backup. This is surely a contender for the yearend smooth-jazz polls.