Joining her are husband John Rack and Bruce Forman on guitar, Doug Webb and Steve Mann on saxophones, Stan Martin and Andrea Lindborg on trumpet, Sammy K on drums, Brad Dutz on percussion and Gina Saputo and Regina Leonard Smyth on vocals (one track each). Jocelyn wrote six original pieces and arranged four others for her first album as a leader.
She began with piano lessons as a child but found herself influenced by rock keyboardists like Rod Argent, Keith Emerson and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord. Emerson, especially, was known for his Jazzy twists. Knowing that, you hear snatches of them all in her approach and even in her writing. Listen for a nod and a wink to Carlos Santana, too.
The album opens with her original, Englewood Cliffs. Doug Webb’s alto sax makes and early appearance and Bruce Forman gets an early guitar solo that he makes pay off. Forman has always been a fine contributor to any project and this is no exception. Webb’s solo is strong and sets up the trumpet of Stan Martin.
It’s at the half-way mark that Jocelyn herself takes the solo we’ve been waiting to hear. You hear a lick of Argent that brings a big smile to any fan of late 60s-early 70s keyboard rock. It is a great influence and plays well in Jazz.
Pay attention to Sammy K on drums. He’s been a long-time collaborator with Jocelyn and he is clearly comfortable with his role here.
Another original, Sylvia’s Song, follows. Steve Mann on tenor sax gets out of the gate first and creates a warm and masterful solo. I like his approach to a solo and to interacting with the rest of the band. John Rack, Jocelyn’s husband, contributes fine moments on guitar, as does Jocelyn.
It is, of course and always, on the B-3 that Jocelyn expresses herself best. There is a measure or two scattered throughout the piece that you feel like you’re back at Woodstock listening to Santana’s Soul Sacrifice. That not a complaint! It is that she has incorporated her influences extremely well.
Between Jocelyn, Rack, Mann and Sammy K, this one just lights it up.
Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man opens with a splendid trumpet solo by Andrea Lindborg. Doug Webb takes over on the tenor sax and within a measure or two, you know what this song is without referencing the track listing.
Jocelyn’s interpretive approach is right on. She takes on the vocal lines and creates the same magic that Marvin did. And you have to give credit to Webb for his gorgeous lines. Sorry to hear this one end.
Jocelyn’s original, A Sister’s Love, cooks from the start. Steve Mann switches to alto sax for this and it is lovely. Jocelyn’s work is spacious, making so much room for Mann to give full rein to what he expresses. Bruce Forman also contributes a bouncy and buoyant guitar to the joyful work. The most light-hearted of all is Jocelyn’s organ. Fantastic writing and arranging. Loved this track.
Oh No, Could I Be in Love is also a Jocelyn original. Gina Saputo is the vocalist and she treats the bossa tune sweetly. Sammy K turns in amazing brush work and Bruce Forman comes around again on guitar. Limited to B-3, guitar, drums and vocals, the lean line-up is perfect for what Jocelyn presents. Saputo’s vocals are plaintive and persuasive and Forman and Sammy K are in fine support.
The Pink Panther Theme by Henry Mancini is always a bit to make anyone smile. A 7-year old neighborhood came by while it was playing and she immediately recognized it and said how much she loved it.
It is delivered beautifully by Jocelyn and by Stan Martin on trumpet. John Rack takes the guitar duties on this one and Doug Webb is back on tenor sax. It is fun and mischievous; the way it is supposed to be.
Gato Barbieri’s Last Tango in Paris is an extraordinary piece. Jocelyn turns it loose under the powerful strokes of Doug Webb’s tenor sax and the cool groove from Sammy K and Jocelyn herself. Forman turns in a pointed guitar solo with his fine phrasing. Jocelyn’s solo is so fine. She moves from refined to raw and back again. A wonderful restatement of Barbieri’s original.
Sunnier Days is a Jocelyn original, opening with the B-3 and Forman’s guitar. The fun erupts as Webb and Mann both play the tenor sax together then in trade. Sammy K and Jocelyn’s bass pedals fashion a fine groove that Stan Martin joins on trumpet.
Everyone gets a hot spot on this track. It is a rollicking good time for all, especially the listener.
Never Let Me Go is the Jay Livingston and Ray Evans classic. Jocelyn creates a lush backdrop with Sammy K’s brushes in attendance. The trio is completed with Bruce Forman contributing his sterling guitar work. The trio creates a soulful and moving performance of longing and desire. Sweet.
Jocelyn’s The Loss closes the album. Jocelyn moves to the piano in accompaniment to Regina Leonard Smyth’s vocals. The Gospel piece is also joined by John Rack who adds a further dimension to the soulful expression. Jocelyn’s organ work fleshes out the church imagery for the closing moments of the album.
Time to Play! is a remarkable album for any fan of the Hammond B-3 but it is a stunning album for a debut. Jocelyn Michelle has composed works of beauty and intelligence for her first outing as a leader and the artists she has gathered are extraordinary. She has created an album truly worth hearing, again and again.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl