“I believe we are a product of our environment,” confides the stunning multi-talented instrumentalist, singer and composer, Jessy J, who took the contemporary jazz world by storm in 2008 with a #1 Billboard hit for eight consecutive weeks. “My exposure to world music plays a central role in how I create music and utilize it as an international language without boundaries,” adds the dynamic young artist who claims classical music as her first love but confesses to listening to everyone from Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Sergio Mendes to Snarky Puppy, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. In a genre dominated by men nearly twice her age, Jessy J has carved out a niche for herself by remaining true to her own unique vision and sound. The independent spirit and consummate artist has worked on such hit TV shows as American Idol and The Voice and toured and or recorded with such diverse stars as Aerosmith, Michael Bublé, Jessica Simpson, Michael Bolton, Joe Sample and The Temptations. May 26, 2015, Shanachie Entertainment will release Jessy J’s fifth and new recording My One And Only One, a stellar collection of mostly originals inspired by her recent travels. “I am really excited for people to hear the music because it is so close to my heart. I loved traveling to Africa and Cuba this past year and it has influenced my style of playing, writing and performing.”
My One And Only One opens with the cool and bluesy Latin jam “Una Mas,” co-written with Paul Brown and Lew Lang. Jessy J’s tenor swoons from beginning to end promising that you will want to hear it just one more time! Jessy J, Brown and Lang also penned the album’s lyrical, breezy and romantic title track that harnesses the magic of romance. “It’s a wonderful feeling when you meet someone that will be with you forever,” says Jessy, an outdoor enthusiast who loves to swim, hike and bike ride. The romantic interlude continues on melancholy “Lovesong,” which features beautiful interplay between Jessy J’s longing tenor and Paul Brown’s fluid and wistful guitar lines. “Lovesong” was made famous by The Cure in the 80s and more recently covered by Adele. Paul Brown who has collaborated with Jessy J for close to a decade suggested she cover the song. “Paul Brown has a great commercial sound,” shares Jessy J. “He grew up in the studios with his parents (they sang for Mel Torme and Frank Sinatra) so he has a complete understanding of popular music and the recording process. He has incredible ears for engineering, mixing and a unique producing style.” The first single on My One And Only One is “The Tango Boy,” is a jubilant and exhilarating number about a young man who just dances through life. In telling this story the multi-talented Jessy J also draws influence from the art of dance, another mode of expression that is close to her heart. “In this song, the young man doesn’t make commitments and wants to have a good time, dancing with as many girls as possible!” Jessy J started taking dance lessons as a child and went on to star in the EMMY Award-winning off-Broadway show “Blast!” upon graduating college.
Last year the Los Angeles based musician had the great fortune to travel to Cuba and the trip has had a lasting effect on her musically and spiritually. The songs “Paraiso Magico,” “Siempre” and “Cuba” are the results of this moving experience.
“Paraiso Magico” showcases Jessy J’s voice and flute. The choice to highlight the flute was made to emphasize the integral role that the flute plays in the Cuban tradition, Charanga. “To me it is a Magical Paradise, with palm trees, sweet people, blue waters, and festive dancing!, shares ” Jessy J who transports us to Cuba with this number as she brings life to Cuba’s heart, soul and pulsating rhythms. She co-wrote the song with guitarist Michael Ripoll, who is BabyFace’s musical director. “We met in 2004 and have been friends ever since,” shares Jessy. Ripoll also joins Jessy on “Siempre,” another track inspired by the saxophonist’s life changing journey to Cuba. The romantic and hypnotic number, features Jessy J on flute and vocals once again and was co-written with her good friend Janis Liebhart of the Muppet Babies. The two first met while touring with Michael Bolton. “Janice is so funny and natural in the studio and our friendship allows her to easily understand what I am looking for in the song,” explains Jessy J. The dreamy number conjures up the essence, simplicity and wonder of falling in love. The festive and uplifting original “Cuba” seamlessly fuses all the finer elements of jazz and Latin music. “I was excited about traveling to a place that has been forbidden for so long. I enjoyed learning about history so visiting the National Palace and places where the historic events took place was exciting for me.” “Cuba” joins Jessy J with Brazilian pianist Thiago Pinheiro who also joins her on “Back To The Basics.” “We met last year and we just hit it off musically!” Jessy J uses “Back To The Basics,” to pay homage to Mother Africa and the drum. “The drums were created in Africa and I was fortunate to travel to the continent to perform and had the experience of seeing first hand how the drum is so important that it is interwoven throughout African culture. This song takes us back to our essence.”
My One And Only One also showcases the Toni Braxton/Babyface hit “You’re Makin’ Me High,” which joins Jessy J once again with Michael Ripoll and Paul Brown who produced the original hit. “Paul has a great ear for vocal songs that work well instrumentally,” declares Jessy. “The words of this song are sexy, so my focus was to relay the mood through the notes on my instrument. One of the things that I really enjoyed from the original version of the song are the background vocals arranged by Babyface. The harmonies are tight and unique, we included a few of these on this track.” Always one to surprise and prove that she has no musical limitations, Jessy J serves up a sumptuous rendition of the Shuggie Otis hit “Strawberry Letter 23,” made popular by Brothers Johnson in 1977. “This is a groove based song that combines the elements of funk, rock, and jazz. My Manager Stewart Coxhead recommended that I cover this piece. I like it because it brings out the commercial side of my playing.”
Jessy J dedicates My One And Only One to the teachers who have influenced her along the way. “My saxophone professor at USC, Jeff Clayton, had a huge impact on my jazz career. He’s the person that helped shape my concept as a solo artist. My High School Band director has been one of my biggest supporters, he encouraged me to go pro, there are so many people its hard to name just a few. Most importantly they have taught me to believe in my dreams and be myself. They encouraged my gifts and told me that I could be successful if I set goals and accomplished them. They also gave me the tools that I needed, music theory, history, practice tips, determination, discipline and technique. I will forever be grateful!”
Jessy’s connection to her Latin heritage runs deep, as her father is originally from Mexico and her mom hails from Texas. Born in Oregon and raised in southern California, Jessy grew up in a home full of big family get-togethers, Mexican feasts and lots of Latin, jazz and pop music. Her musical influences include Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Grover Washington, Jr., Sergio Mendes, Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan.
She credits her parents as her biggest influences as she watched them “work so hard to come to the U.S., have careers and enjoy the beautiful things this country has to offer. I knew I was going to work hard from the beginning,” she shares. While she was studying at USC, she set her sights on becoming a studio musician, recording music for movies, commercials and television shows but quickly learned she needed to spend time getting more experience. She spent two years touring with the off-Broadway, EMMY Award winning show Blast! While on that tour she started focusing on performing with her own band, so she began writing her own music. Jessy J returned to Los Angeles and put together her first group featuring Bryant Siono on bass and Norman Jackson on keyboards. In addition, she toured with Jessica Simpson, did studio work with Michael Bublé and the Temptations, and was invited to tour with Michael Bolton. Jessy’s diligence paid off when she met Grammy Award-winning smooth jazz producer Paul Brown at the Newport Jazz Festival and he agreed to work on her debut album, Tequila Moon in 2008. She followed that CD with True Love in 2009 and Hot Sauce in 2011. Last year Jessy J was able to achieve her dream of becoming a studio musician in Los Angeles, working on the hit television shows “American Idol” and “The Voice.” Her work on “American Idol” impressed Steven Tyler, who invited Jessy to record on the latest Aerosmith album. 2014 saw the release of her acclaimed Second Chances, which joined her with guests Jeff Lorber, Norman Brown, Jimmy Haslip and Johnny Britt. With the release of My One And Only One, Jessy J continues to solidify her role as one of the most thrilling and innovative young voices to emerge in contemporary jazz in years.
Jessy J concludes, “This album is another big step in my musical dream of achieving diversity and originality through practice, patience, gratitude and experience. My travels to Africa and Cuba definitely influenced this album as well as my journeys in life & love. Hope you enjoy it!”