Sweet Baby J'ai | Evolution

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United States - California - LA

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Blues: Jazzy Blues Moods: Type: Vocal
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by Sweet Baby J'ai

The Los Angeles Times describes it as ...swinging...powerful...and haunting." Featuring the late greats, legendary sax man Teddy Edwards and drummer, Sherman Ferguson, Jay Leno's Vicki Randle and the genius of pianist, Nate Morgan.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Nature Boy
4:39 $0.99
2. Hit The Road, Jack
5:42 $0.99
3. Suddenly (In Walked Bud)
3:30 $0.99
4. Hypnotized
5:53 $0.99
5. Autumn Leaves
4:34 $0.99
6. You Don't Know What Love Is
5:02 $0.99
7. Summertime (On Central Avenue)
6:06 $0.99
8. Evolution
4:09 $0.99
9. Wish I Could
5:02 $0.99
10. Cooler Than Cool
3:23 $0.99
11. Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On
4:23 $0.99
12. I'll Fly You Away
5:28 $0.99
13. The World Is A Ghetto
4:11 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“A powerful young performer blessed with Lena Horne's biting enunciation, J'ai sometimes sounds as pure and creamy as Ann Hampton Calloway, other times embraces the earthy integrity of Nina Simone." --The Jazz Times

"Sweet Baby J'ai's mixture of musical styles was mesmerizing...there's no doubt the `being real' is what makes this unique performer one of a kind." _-- Blues and Soul Magazine

"...wonderfully original." - New York Times

"...extraordinary...a stunning performer." - Jazz Now"

“Yes, Sweet Baby J’ai plays the washboard, and occasionally the spoons. But this ain’t no backyard hoedown. She turns the washboard into a “jazzboard,” adding rhythmic accents and even solos using spoons, sticks and brushes, depending on the mood of the song…her infectius personality and realness come through...” OC Weekly

Product Description
Sweet Baby J'ai's EVOLUTION takes you on an extraordinarily vivid journey. This multi-talented singer, composer, arranger and producer has managed to breathe new life into classic songs with her original, sometimes unexpected, often sophisticated interpretations. A wonderful collection of jazz, blues and spoken word, which includes four carefully crafted originals, EVOLUTION features some of the finest musicians on the scene today. Sweet Baby J'ai surrounds herself with a plethora of great musicians including Teddy Edwards and Oscar Brashear, all of whom, according to James Jannise, Program Host of KLON, 88.1, America's #1 jazz station, "...play up to the level that each of them are known and respected for. I can say with authority that this collection of works has elevated Sweet Baby J'ai from songstress to Diva." Teddy Edwards - saxophone, Oscar Brashear - trumpet, Nate Morgan - piano & flute, Paula Gallitano - piano, Trey Henry - bass, Trevor Ware - bass, Sherman Ferguson - drums, Ronald Muldrow - guitar, Mike Simms - guitar, Jamie Findlay - 12 string guitar, Carol Chaikin - sax & flute, Nolan Shaheed - trumpet, Kerry Loeschen - trombone, Louis Taylor, Jr. - baritone, Tambu - percussion, Vicki Randle - percussion

About the Artist
Sweet Baby J'ai got her start under the guidance of mentor, the legendary Phil Moore. Shortly thereafter she could be found performing in jazz clubs in Paris. Back home in the U.S., she benefited early on in her career from the support and direction of working with legends, saxophonist Teddy Edwards and guitarist Phil Upchurch.

Sweet Baby J'ai is a critically acclaimed vocalist and songwriter who has toured the world with her distinctive sound. She and her band have also performed extensively in the U.S. and have been featured at numerous festivals, clubs and benefits. She has shared the stage with such luminaries as The Jazz Crusaders, Etta James, Joe Sample, Koko Taylor, Frank Capp & The Juggernaut, Sheila E., Stanley Turrentine, Patrice Rushen, Red Holloway and the late Eddie Harris, to name a few. She has been heard on radio and television both nationally and internationally. With her deep, powerful, sometimes playful and sensuous voice, and her acclaimed songwriting style, Sweet Baby J'ai is provocative and impassioned, combining her infectious personality and original style with the influences of Carmen McRae and Joe Williams. Some critics describe her as a "jazz singer", others as a "blues singer", but all agree that this versatile singer-songwriter is a "storyteller".

Sweet Baby J'ai grew up in a city rich with musical history, Kansas City, home to legends like Big Joe Turner and Charlie "Bird" Parker among others. At only five years old, she was already writing songs and by the age of eight, sneaking in the backdoors of clubs on 18th & Vine to watch her father play with top jazz musicians. Her uncle, Vernon Gower, played bass with Billie Holiday and Lionel Hampton and her cousin, Michael Howell, played guitar with Dizzie Gillespie. Her style is rooted in the Kansas City sound. Sweet Baby J'ai is a versatile performer and an unconventional musician. She takes the washboard, an instrument usually reserved for Cajun or jug band music and puts a jazz spin on it, claiming it as her own "Jazzboard" sound. Whether singing a swinging version of a standard, a soulful blues ballad or a haunting original, she weaves her special magic through songs seemingly taylor-made for her intimate style.

Baby J'ai demonstates many talents on her releases. Both, The Art of Blue and her latest release, Evolution find her wearing multiple hats including producer, composer and arranger. She serves up a multi-hued palette of songs that highlight her warm velvety tones, sometimes fun and often thought-provoking lyrics. She swings, whispers, shouts and caresses every song like telling a personal story. Her CD's are a complication of original compositions, fresh approaches to jazz classics, and obscure covers. Call her a renaissance woman-she's also a playwright, having co-written the acclaimed play, "3 Women: A Dramatic Tribute to The Divas of Jazz & Blues", as well as being an actress, novelist and artist. Sweet Baby J'ai is one of the brightest rising stars in jazz.



to write a review

Chistopher Loudon, JAZZ TIMES

“J’ai sometimes sounds as pure and creamy as Ann Hampton Callaway, other times e
Sweet Baby J’ai
Evolution (Sunset)
Somebody ought to tell Kansas City’s Sweet Baby J’ai that the “bachelor pad” renaissance is long over. J’ai opens Evolution (Sunset Music) with a swooping, swerving “Nature Boy” that, complete with Yma Sumac yelps and tropical bird calls, recalls Les Baxter at his most exotically outrageous. Truth is, though, her Vargas Girl calisthenics represent only one aspect of a surprisingly multifaceted album. A powerful young performer blessed with Lena Horne’s biting enunciation, J’ai sometimes sounds as pure and creamy as Ann Hampton Callaway, other times embraces the earthy integrity of Nina Simone. Such dexterity enables her to shift from a hard-boppin’ version of Monk and Hendricks’ “Suddenly (In Walked Bud)” and a finger-poppin’ “Hit the Road, Jack” to a spicy “Autumn Leaves” that’s as warm and inviting as an Indian summer afternoon. She injects the Gershwins’ lilting “Summertime” with sweaty, Central Avenue street cred and offers up a quartet of original compositions that are consistently fine. Best of the bunch are the bouncy “Wish I Could” (sort of latter-day “I Told Ya I Love Ya, Now Get Out”) and “Cooler Than Cool,” an icy concoction worthy of Ramsey Lewis’ imperturbable detachment.

Craig W. Hurst, JAZZ.COM

Evolution is a fantastic recording with great variety and balance between origin
Within the first few seconds of the CD Evolution, the listener should be abundantly aware that they are going to be in for a musical feast of delectable proportions. On this recording, Sweet Baby J’ai caters the listener with a well-balanced product that is artistically unique and a delight to the ear. Whether she is juxtaposing a weave of two different songs within each other, singing a great John Hendricks vocalease or a sultry ballad, uniquely interpreting time tested standards, swinging straight ahead, grooving with a soulful jazz sound or getting it on with a down home blues, Sweet Baby J’ai leaves the listener wondering if there is anything this lady cannot do.

The CD opens with very exotic sounding percussion and bamboo flute introducing the invigorating and inviting Latin flavored accompaniment to the standard “Nature Boy.” The interpolation of “I’ve Got Rhythm” interspersed with Sweet Baby J’ai’s dialog is an effective introduction to the second tune, Percy Mayfield’s classic “Hit the Road, Jack.” Likewise, Sweet Baby J’ai applies a similar approach to “Summertime” the seventh tune on the CD. “Summertime” is juxtaposed with Sweet Baby J’ai’s original dialog and a unique interpretation of Gershwin’s classic. The third tune on the CD is a tribute to the greats of the Bebop era, “Suddenly (In Walked Bud).” This musical vehicle provides evidence of Sweet Baby J’ai’s ability to cruise through mouthfuls of John Hendricks’ vocalease interspersed with capable instrumental solos.
Sweet Baby J’ai also demonstrates her abilities as a composer on Evolution. “Hypnotized” is a down tempo blues sung with a very soulful interpretation. Her cool, smooth and swinging “Wish I Could” cooks with the heat of a blue flame.

The Harmon muted trumpet solo by Oscar Brashear, double time piano solo by Nate Morgan, and guitar inflections of Ronald Muldrow are extra bonuses. On “Cooler than Cool” the listener is treated to sounds akin to 1950’s roadhouse R and B and groovin’ soul-jazz ala Lee Morgan, Adderly Brothers and Ramsey Lewis. Her “I’ll Fly You Away,” begins as a soft, sultry ballad that seduces the listener into a driving samba featuring a flute solo by Carol Chaikin and piano solo again by Nate Morgan.

Evolution also contains new interpretations of songs long part of the repertoire. “Autumn Leaves” which opens with Sweet Baby J’ai in musical dialog with bassist Trey Henry, provides an interestingly different approach to this well-known standard. Her version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” is a sexy, sultry delight that beckons to the listener’s ear. Oscar Brashear’s muted trumpet again provides appropriate accompaniment to Sweet Baby J’ai’s smoky voice. By far the swingingest tune on the CD is the version of the old New Orleans classic blues “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On.” And if that wasn’t enough, she also provides a new interpretation of the rock/soul classic “The World Is a Ghetto.” Not to be left out, the title cut of the CD, “Evolution” is beautifully rendered ballad.

Evolution is a fantastic recording with great variety and balance between originals and standards, rock, blues, and jazz. The sound on Evolution is also excellent and would make this CD a superb addition to anyone’s jazz CD collection. One can only look forward to Sweet Baby J’ai’s next recording project.

Sharon Peppe' Catlett

Lover of Music
Absolutely Wonderful!! I'm ordering it today!