In a career which now spans over 20 years, soulful saxophonist Yancyy has paid his dues and then some. With performing credits that include engagements with the likes of George Clinton, Will Downing, Howard Hewitt, Maysa, Freddie Jackson, Jean Carne and Gene Dunlap he has learned from the very best and is now stepping center stage with the excellent ‘Sax Chronicles Volume1’. Yancyy is aided in this endeavor by the legendary Phil Davis who writes one song, co-writes two more and plays keyboards throughout. The result is a slice of urban jazz that in recent times is as good as anything I have heard.
The high standard that Davis and Yancyy collectively set is established early with the Davis composition ‘Sante Fe’. This reflective stunner is among the albums very best but if urban jazz is what ‘Sax Chronicles Volume1’ is all about then one track that captures this mood to perfection is the ultra hip ‘Call Me’. Written by Vito Atchison and with something approximating a steppers beat this as fresh as it comes whereas ‘Let Me Take You There’ is a catchy chunk of smooth jazz that shimmers with sweet vocals from Keisha Turnbrough.
In fact the feel good vibe that Yancyy injects into his music is replicated often and none more so than with ‘Happy’ for which the title just about says it all. Elsewhere, the Boney James like ‘T’s Groove’ includes a cool piano solo from Davis and fine playing on tenor sax from Yancyy while although ‘We’ll Be Together’ proves to be another wonderful example of top notch contemporary jazz, the edgy mid tempo groove of ‘Unconditional’ is equally on the money.
In similar vein is ‘Feel It’ where a great beat owes much to the tight drumming of Ron Otis and despite the fact that Yancyy closes out the CD with Michael Jackson’s ‘Will You Be There’ the real magic comes from another cover version, Keyshia Cole’s wonderful ‘I Remember’. Already a contender for Smooth Jazz Therapy top tune, the haunting vocals of Tiffany Davis take this mellow charmer to another level yet when Yancyy reprises the number (with the addition of stupendous violin from Jerald Daemyon) the result is even better. This notwithstanding, mention must also go to another personal favorite, the streetwise ‘Urban Funk’ for which the expression ‘urban jazz doesn’t get better than this’ would be totally apt.
Indeed, if this is what ‘Sax Chronicles Volume1’is all about then I, for one, cannot wait for Volume 2.