10th May2012

Jessica Lauren 4 ‘Jessica Lauren 4’ CD/LP/Digital (Freestyle) 4/5

by ukvibe

Here is the much anticiapted album from keyboardist Jessica Lauren who has featured on so many other musicians albums and live performances ranging from jazz-funkster Tom Browne and jazzy soulstress Jean Carne to the blues-gospel hues of Barb Jungr. A foretaste emerged in early spring with the excellent latin-influenced instrumental ‘Mr. G’ from the latest Frerestyle compilation, but what is refreshing about this latest project is that one can hear Lauren perform almost exclusively on acoustic piano. The opener ‘White mountain’ which is something of medium-paced Latin shuffle with a simple but catchy piano riff sets the tone with the two percussionists David Gallagher and Paul Gunter embarking on some fine experimentation in a classic ‘montuno’ percussion workout. If anything the Latin Jazz flavours are quite understated on ‘Vaya con dios’ with the subtle use of strings supplied by the Wrecking Crew while the initial 12” single ‘Happiness train’ to promote the album featuring the vocals of dancefloor diva Jocelyn Brown is more blues-inflected than soulful disco, but works all the same. For much of the albums pieces, Jessica is content to blend in to the overall sound rather than dictating and when she really does start to solo, it is in a gentle manner and with a simple (but never simplistic) approach. The Latin feel is reflected in the creative late 1950s art cover on the CD which harks back to Cal Tjader and Mongo Santamaria albums on the Californian Fantasy records label. Tim Stenhouse

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