With her sizzling mix of hot beats, Latin and samba rhythms, instantly captivating melodies and model looks, Jessy J proved quite the sensation when Tequila Moon, her auspicious debut on Peak Records, a division of Concord Music Group, was released March 4, 2008. The album earned the Mexican-American saxophonist/singer/songwriter such accolades as Radio & Records’ Debut Artist of The Year Award and Contemporary Jazz Song of the Year by R&R and Billboard for the title track, which stayed perched at #1 for an incredible eight weeks. Adding to Jessy’s rising star was a cover story in Jazziz Magazine, as well as features in People en Espanol and JazzTimes.
The hit “Tropical Rain,” from her 2009 release, True Love, reached the #1 spot on the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown, as well as the R&R and Billboard jazz charts. Jessy was also on the October 2009 covers of Saxophone Journal and Latina Style Magazine in February 2010. In September 2010, this multi-talented musician was selected by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) for their prestigious ASCAPLUS writing award.
Jessy’s third album, Hot Sauce, released on September 6, 2011 on Heads Up International, spotlights her collaborations with some of today’s most prominent contemporary jazz musicians, including guitarists Paul Brown and Ray Parker Jr, keyboardists Joe Sample and Gregg Karukas, and drummer Harvey Mason of Fourplay. Hot Sauce showcases eight originals along with adventurous new arrangements of Francis Anthony ‘Eg’ White’s pop hit “Leave Right Now” and Duke Ellington’s jazz classic “In a Sentimental Mood.”
With the majority of tracks produced by mega contemporary and urban jazz hit maker/musician Paul Brown, (who also produced Tequila Moon and True Love), one of the most remarkable aspects of Hot Sauce is Jessy’s ongoing commitment to her development as an artist and composer on her own terms.
The Oregon-born, California-raised performer draws her inspiration naturally from several unique musical wellsprings. While she was growing up, her Mexican-born father and mother, a native of Texas, had parties at their house where festive, live Latin music—including La Banda music of her dad’s home country—flowed all night long. She was a huge fan of Cannonball Adderley and John Coltrane, but also loved pop. After graduating from USC with a degree in jazz studies—she was named Most Outstanding Jazz Student of her class—she jumped quickly into recording sessions with artists like Michael Buble; and toured with The Temptations (2005-6) and Jessica Simpson.
A true musical prodigy, Jessy began playing piano at age four and spent most of her childhood as a competitive artist, performing at major conferences, competitions and festivals. These childhood experiences and the discipline and work ethic she gained from them would prove to be a great testing ground for her future career in the industry.
In 2004, Jessy joined the cast of the off-Broadway show Blast! and drew on her multitude of skills as an actress, singer, dancer and sax player as she performed in the U.S., London and Japan. It was during this time that she started to have a strong desire to write and perform more of her own music, the dream she fulfilled with her first recording, Tequila Moon.
The Spanish-speaking saxophonist is also heavily involved in music programs connected with the Hispanic community, including performing with the Hispanic Musician Association Orchestra. In 2006, Jessy had the opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall as part of the Latin Jazz Project put together by one of her true sax heroes, Paquito D’Rivera. She did a similar project with the Henry Mancini Institute performing with legendary artists like Burt Bacharach. Currently, Jessy is working with the Disney Organization on Disney’s Jazz Celebration, their annual event for young performers. Jessy also enjoys working with Selmer Musical Instruments to provide saxophone clinics for young people across America. She also currently serves on the board of directors for The Young Musicians Project, a non-profit organization that brings music education to inner city youth in Los Angeles.
Jessy has performed in the all-star Guitars and Saxes tours (2008-09) and also with GRAMMY Award-winning guitarist Norman Brown and his Summer Storm Tour (2010). In the last few months she’s spread her wings and performed at such prestigious events as the Dubai International Jazz Festival in the United Arab Emirates and also Java Jazz, which has become the festival in the Far East, a fantastic three-day event based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Closer to home, Jessy has performed at the fabled Pizza Express Jazz Club in London and will be traveling to Germany to perform at Augsburg’s unique Smooth Jazz Festival. About performing overseas, Jessy comments, “While I love playing for my home audience, it is such a pleasure to travel to foreign lands and perform my kind of Latin Jazz.” Next year (2012), she is off to Costa Rica for a very special fan-based retreat in February. Although, Jessy’s contemporary style of Latin jazz will always be her first love, on occasion she enjoys performing other styles of music with well-known musicians. Her ever-expanding musical horizons mean that she gets to play with musicians outside her normal genre, like Michael Bolton at Royal Albert Hall in 2009.
This burgeoning slate of shows complements Jessy’s extensive schedule in the pop and Latin music worlds, where she has toured as saxophonist and backing vocalist for Michael Bolton and performed with two of Mexico’s most popular artists, Gloria Trevi (aka “The Madonna of Mexico”) and Armando Manzanero (whom Jessy calls “the Mancini of Mexico”). She is about to go out on the road with one of Mexico’s hottest stars, Cristian Castro, in addition to studio work with pop stars like Seal, Jessica Simpson, El Chicano and Survivor’s Jim Peterik.
While Tequila Moon was very organic in style and True Love was inspired by instrumental Latin- pop, Hot Sauce is a whole different set of contrasts. As Miles Davis said, “What’s cool can be hot, and what’s hot can be cool, but hot or cool man, jazz is jazz” and that’s what Jessy thinks about her new album. Some songs are really hot with a spicy Latin flavor (“Hot Sauce”) and others are cool like the bluesy side of jazz (“Rio Grande”, and Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood”).
For Jessy this is step three on her ever escalating ladder of success—a little something to set your musical taste buds on fire!