At the ripe old age of 30, Jackie Joyner is what many of his peers are struggling to become: tenacious, talented and tenured in the world of music. Since he was a preteen, Mr. Joyner's been developing his gift of rhythm and composition, performing on the sax and drums in high school, leading his church's music department and later, performing on a missionary trip to the motherland. Soon after that, his skills graced him with a three year gig in Marcus Johnson's band, where he accompanied established professionals like Angela Bofill, Ronnie Laws, Jean Carne and Bobby Lyle. Now hitting his groove as a solo player, Jackiem Joyner had better be eating his Wheaties these days, because the passion and polish that can be heard in his self-titled third CD will not only take him to greater heights, but will send him on the express train to reach them.
Astoundingly, Mr. Joyner is not only the author of seven of the ten tracks, more often than not, he played every instrument as well, so there's cohesion throughout even as the moods and melodies change. An urgent yearning is displayed in the mid-tempo stand-out, "If This Isn't Love," and "My Last Goodbye" is a warm, yet wistful ballad. Plucky guitar play and taut horns on "Push" make the listener want to jump right up and do just that. "Back Together Again" has a surprising texture to it, as does "Home," with shuffling percussive flow that anchors the backdrop as the horns glide and soar. "Turn It Up" is party fuel with its hip-swaying, head-rocking feel, and "Reunion," likely fueled by the real-life re-connection that he recently made with his father and siblings, uses a marching band beat and a busy, buoyant interpolation of sax, guitar and keys to drive the enthusiasm and euphoria home.
Do the remakes get the same treatment as his originals? Of course. There's enough reedy grit and edginess displayed in "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" to keep it from becoming too cloying, and "Off the Wall" is kept as snappy and soulful as the King of Pop's version, minus the disco ball, blowout Afro and polyester suit.
Seamlessly sequenced and super-smooth to listen to, the only quibble to be had is that sometimes the percussion occasionally drowns out the crisp notes he's blowing out, and that there's too much busyness in places to fully appreciate the virtuosity of his work. But beyond those minor flaws, Mr. Joyner has yet another hit on his hands and might as well get used to the frenetic pace he's keeping, because the demand for his this Norfolk, VA native isn't about to fade away anytime soon. Highly Recommended.
By Melody Charles