Singer/songwriter Jabari Grover has made a name for himself over the past decade providing vocal support to major artists such as Chaka Khan, Johnny Taylor, Roy Haynes, Vesta and Gerald Levert. He has also worked as a songwriter for pop/soul boy band Color Me Badd and jazz favorite Walter Beasley.
In late 2004, Grover struck out on his own, recording and self-releasing his debut album, When I'm With You. Boasting a clear, strong voice that falls somewhere between Freddie Jackson and Frank McComb, Grover shows on his debut a penchant for adult-oriented, jazz-influenced soul. When I'm With You makes for generally good late-night listening, its cozy arrangements giving a nightclub-type feel, especially on cuts such as "I Can't Help It" and the smooth "Seasons" (the latter of which includes a nice sax solo by Michael Burton). While the mood on the disc doesn't vary much (occasionally making the songs run into each other a bit too much), cuts such as "I'll Be Around" and the title cut are notably well written and performed. The album's gem, however, is the smooth "Pocket Full of Dreams," the strongest cut both musically and lyrically and a song that smooth jazz radio should pick up.
When I'm With You is not a revolutionary disc by any means, but it is an appealing, smooth soul/jazz disc fronted by a young singer with a fine voice - and that's not something you hear everyday. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Jabari Grover.
by Chris Rizik