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Javon Jackson with Les McCann: Lucky 13

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Javon Jackson’s simultaneously brawny and brainy tenor sound, burly and commanding but also capable of surgical precision, is well featured on Lucky 13, not coincidentally his 13th album as a leader. Having graduated from the schools of Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Betty Carter before embarking on his solo career, Jackson knows a thing or two about pacing and programming, and he applies those skills to this appealing set of familiar tunes and original compositions.

Les McCann, a Jackson tour mate for the last five years, lends soul-jazz authenticity on piano and growly vocals, revisiting his 1969 crossover hit “Compared to What” with a rambunctious version recorded live at the Kennedy Center in 2008; Jackson’s soloing is as ferocious as the passion behind McCann’s singing. McCann is also showcased on a molasses-slow seven-minute version of the love ballad “With These Hands” and a similarly relaxed “Amazing Grace.” On both tracks he’s accompanied solely by Jackson, a natural duo partner whose playing is nicely attuned to McCann’s.

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