Jessy J is something of an enigma – As an individual, she readily plays sexual politics to her advantage, turning sideways for video cameras and jumping up and down while playing the saxophone. Yet, as an artist she has still managed to carve out a prominent position in the Smooth Jazz world, dominating charts while still yearning to learn more about her craft.
Released earlier this year, ‘Hot Sauce’ proves to be as much of an enigma as the artist, drawing on a wide range of influences and clearly demonstrating Jessy’s growth as an artist – Moving away from the soft-blowing sax of her past albums and towards the the loud, passionate latin infused performances this album makes it sound like she was made for.
The album starts strong with three powerful and adventurous tracks – The D’Angelo influenced funky/soulful sounds of “Remember the Night” which prove reminiscent of a funky late-night jam session; the stripped down ballad “Rio Grande”, which perfectly showcases Jessy’s skill on the saxophone; and the up-beat latin party title-track “Hot Sauce”.
After these three tracks, however, the album takes an unfortunate downward turn. Featuring Joe Sample on keyboard, Ray Parker Jr. on guitar, and Fourplay‘s Harvey Mason on drums, ‘Rainbow Gold’ had huge potential but proved to be unadventurous, before turning just plain bad as Jessy’s -usually good- vocals were auto-tuned and layered with horrible effect early in the track. The album later descends into Muzak territory as Jessy offers a soft cover of Eg White‘s ‘Leave Right Now’.
Jessy says herself that this is “An album of contrasts” – There is a beautiful fusion of Latin, Jazz, and Pop on this album that make few demands while somehow managing to remain fresh and adventurous. While it missed the mark in certain areas, it remains an intensely melodic and enjoyable album which is sure to please its intended audiences.