In 1991, the husband-and-wife theologians Elizabeth Moltmann-Wendel and Jürgen Moltmann dually wrote God—His & Hers. In this book, they looked at the masculine and feminine in the Deity but—here’s the change-up—Elizabeth wrote of the masculine and Jürgen wrote of the feminine. It was a remarkable cross-gender view of a subject dear to so many.
In that same vein, Sidney has taken on songs that are traditionally from the feminine point of view. Like the Moltmann’s book, If I Were Your Woman is eye-opening, educational, and certainly entertaining.
He brings that cool baritone into play, a talent that began to be used professionally at the age of 14 years old, to take on the R&B-Jazz influenced tunes that set you on fire.
The idea of reimagining the more feminine-voiced tunes began when he performed I Feel Pretty and the audience went wild over it. Mind you, this isn’t the comic-rendition of Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler in Anger Management. This is serious Jazz. It was his wife who gave Sidney the idea. God bless her.
Of the new direction, Sidney explains, “I wanted to create a different listening experience and find songs that had personal relevance to me and songs that marked some very specific times in my life.” He brings along with him some of the West Coast’s top-tier recording musicians such as, Gene Coye (drums), Solomon Dorsey (electric and acoustic bass), Josh Johnson (alto sax, flute) Chris Lawrence (trumpet), the amazing Josh Nelson (piano, keyboards), Greg Poree (acoustic guitar), Nolan Shaheed (trumpet, flugelhorn), Joakim Toftgard (trombone), Rickey Woodard (tenor sax), and Munyungo Jackson (percussion). Ron Feuer, the music director for The 5th Dimension, co-produced this album and plays additional keyboards. Seriously, this band is the right fit for Sidney’s sweet baritone.
The opening tune We All… is actually We All…Know…A Little Bit…” and it is a beautiful proclamation of knowing just how little we know. It reminds one of the Rule of St. Oran: The way we think things are is not how they are at all.” The piece, a Sidney original, is a suite of three parts and the three parts are scattered across the album.
Sidney takes on Barbra Streisand’s On a Clear Day and the big band accompaniment is wonderful. Then he magnificently reworks I Feel Pretty from West Side Story. Far from the Jack Nicholson version in Anger Management, Sidney goes straight at the Bernstein classic with terrific scat passages. It swings magnificently and Sidney just owns it. I mean, he owns it.
Light is a full Big Band arrangement with inspiration from Sidney’s own mother. It is a tribute to his family and makes you wish you were in his family. It is Weave the Tale, however, that is the most intriguing piece on the album. With brilliant scat and powerful rhythms and meaningful melodies, this one demands attention. Nelson and Woodard pair off finely with Sidney.
He reworks Gladys Knight’s If I were Your Woman—the title track—and it sends thrills down your spine. Aretha Franklin’s Until You Come Back to Me is a winner in any rendition and Sidney gives us a beautiful version that stays in your head for hours. In a good way.
Each and every track on this album is deserving of rapt attention and reckless enjoyment. Every song is a treasure and Sidney Jacobs firmly ensconces himself as a bright light in the modern Jazz world. If I Were Your Woman is miraculous.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl