Born in North Little Rock, AR, and raised in music, he was educated at The University of Memphis, graduating with a dual Bachelor’s in Jazz Studies and Music Education. He led his own band on Beale Street in Memphis for two years before moving to New York City. He continued his studies and received a Master’s degree in Music from New York University. He is a first-call musician in NYC and he shows his remarkable skills at full-tilt on I Can Do All Things.
It should be noted that Jeremy fought Steven Johnson’s Syndrome as a child, the effects have followed him into adulthood. He was told that he would not survive, he required four cornea transplants and a revolving-door access to the hospital.
The album is a statement of overcoming those struggles through music. One wonders if he is offering a musical corollary to Paul of Tarsus’ statement “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Being a son of the church, that is undoubtedly true of Warren’s beliefs. But perhaps, for him, music was the instrument through which Jeremy was strengthened.
And you can hear determination in every stroke of the beat.
He brings along the right artists who seize his message and drive it forward with Jeremy’s own bold heart. With him are Gil Defay and J.S. Williams on trumpet, Christopher McBride, Rakiem Walker and Ethan Helm on alto sax (Rakiem is also on tenor sax), Joel Desroches on piano, Sam Carroll on organ, Parker McAllister and Gabriel Otero on bass and, of course, Jeremy Warren on drums. His secret weapon is his own charming wife, Dermel Warren.
Jeremy declares that he included his wife “to make my compositions more interesting and personal.” Forget that. She’s terrific! He says she is more R&B than Jazz but he envisioned what she could do with Jazz. What she does is beautiful.
The album opens with the title track, I Can Do All Things. It’s not just a statement of faith, I really think Warren can do just about everything. This song, like all the songs on the album, is composed by Jeremy Warren. The Dermel vocalizations with Desroches’ piano, McAllister’s bass, and the horns warm up the song at the introduction. Right away you’re caught by the drums of Jeremy Warren and that gorgeous voice of Dermel. Defay’s flugelhorn is stunning and McBride’s sax is spot-on. Desroches piano solo is excellent stuff.
The final minutes are a clinic from Jeremy on how to create melodic drum lines and in giving space to other artists without diminishing your own mission. Jeremy knows how to kick off an album.
Modern Warfare follows hot on the heels smokes right from the opening rhythms. Rakiem Walker steps in on alto sax alongside Defay’s trumpet. Walker is subtle and melodic and turns in one fine solo. Don’t lose sight of what McAllister and Jeremy are doing together with Desroches. That is a tight rhythm section. This is some of the hottest Jazz you will ever hope to hear. Defay’s trumpet is a thing of ripping beauty. Dermel is forceful against the aggressive horns. Well-done.
I like the mix and mastering of this album, too. Eric “Zoser” Robinson of Zosermusic gets a standing ovation.
Yet Faithful opens with smooth solo piano. Dermel wrote the lyrics and delivers them with the sincerity in which she wrote them. It is the lyrics that only a spouse could write regarding the struggles of the one they love. Defay and Walker are back on the horns and they provide emphatic punctuation to the lyrics and vocals. Walker’s alto sax is so fine. Defay plays a muted trumpet in the background. Desroches does a fine outro on the piano.
Livin’ Way Up features Leon Marin who co-wrote the song with Jeremy. It is drums and rap only and it works well. I love it. Jeremy nails it and proclaims his defiance of those who would treat his life as meaningless. Instead, he’s Livin’ Way Up.
You Got It was composed by Jonathan “J-Dav” Davenport and features Dermel and Baxter Wordsworth with just the trio of Desroches, McAllister and Jeremy. It is a lovely melody that opens the piece then a hard groove takes over. Dermel drones the title for several measures before her delivery of the verses make your heart stop for a beat or two. She intones “You can be Kobe Bryant, Dr. Martin Luther, an astronaut, pastor or preacher” and the background vocals sing “Hallelujah.” You can be anything, she reminds.
At around the 3:11mark, Wordsworth joins in. What a fitting name! Baxter’s poetic lines are just as striking as anything the great William Wordsworth wrote. Funny that William Wordsworth was ridiculed for using “common speech” in his poetry and it is that type of speech that drives the power of Baxter’s poetry. However, Baxter uses lofty imagery. “From philosophy, I mix Dr. King. From philosophy, I mix Dr. Seuss.” Who doesn’t love that imagery?
Then Baxter goes on to mention Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, King Arthur’s sword Excalibur to Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot. He reminds that everything you need you got in you, a nod and a wink to L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz who told the Scarecrow, the Lion and the Tin Man that they already had inside of them what they desired. And anyone who can casually mention Alexander and the Gordian Knot has already won me over.
Dermel and the trio close out the remarkable track.
No Words brings to bear the quartet of piano, bass, Defay’s trumpet and Jeremy and features Dermel and Gloria Ryann on vocals. The heavy R&B groove lifts the soulful trumpet and the fine vocals. This is a beautiful vocal duet and ends far too soon.
Lost Friends follows next and features Dermel. The hot horns of Williams and Defay (trumpets), McBride (alto sax) and Rakiem Walker (tenor sax) are brilliant. Desroches and McAllister are such a cool match to Jeremy Warren. The musicians are absolutely fantastic and are so well paired with the movement that Jeremy creates.
Parker McAllister gets a gorgeous bass solo and he works it sublimely. It is funky and Jazzy at once, giving way to Desroches’ piano which begins with softly proclaimed chord progressions as Jeremy cuts loose with amazing riffs and rhythms. Piano, bass and drums soften up for the horns to retake the hot spot. The piece ends with a shout chorus that wraps the piece up wonderfully.
Battle with Steven is a quartet piece. Joining Jeremy is Andy Milne on piano, McAllister on bass and Ethan Helm on alto sax. It is a cool straight-up Jazz affair and these four make it work beautifully. The groove provides the foundation for Helm’s alto sax lead which is set back in the mix to extraordinary effect. Piano, bass and drums step forward and the fun erupts between them. Jeremy and McAllister knock down the odd-meter rhythms and keep you listening intently, counting the beat. Then alto sax returns to bring the melody for another pass. Excellent.
Drummer’s Blues is set in the quintet of Jeremy, McAllister, Desroches, Defay (trumpet) and Walker (alto sax). McAllister opens it with a cool bass line that is matched in step by Desroches piano, albeit slightly off in key. Cool stuff.
Defay tears up the trumpet while the rhythm section is working their own trinitarian (piano, bass and drums—not Father, Son and Holy Ghost) groove. You need to focus in on all these artists as they simply tear it up. McAllister gets another bass solo and it is bluesy and fine, laying down a hard groove which piano and drums gleefully assimilate. Jeremy is on fire as he solos and gives it everything in his heart and soul. The horns return for the close and the quintet knocks it down.
J-Dubb’s Step (composed by Jack Cooper) closes out the album. The song features Lenny Picket on tenor sax with Sam Carroll on organ and Gabe Otero on bass, a swinging quartet with Jeremy. You know Lenny Pickett from the SNL band and Tower of Power. You’ll remember him immediately when you hear him solo. The Carroll solo is also some fine, fine work. Otero is bouncing behind in his funky bass style. And Jeremy is fitting in with them all.
This is the thing that is so obviously right with Jeremy Warren, he fits in with anybody and any style. On I Can Do All Things, he unleashes his talents in Blues, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Gospel and he owns them all. I mean, he just owns them. For a debut album, it carries a depth and a maturity that belies the youth of the artist Jeremy Warren. He has defied his doctors and has worked wonders all of his own making.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl