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A Look Within (1996)

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Javon Jackson

Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson deserves a lot of credit for stretching himself on this release. Although he can sound very close to Joe Henderson at times, on this set he interprets a wide-ranging repertoire that allows him to avoid falling into the revivalist hard bop category. In addition to a pair of originals (the medium-uptempo blues "Hamlet's Favorite Son" and "Assessment" which is dedicated to Elvin Jones), Jackson performs songs by the likes of Egberto Gismonti, Frank Zappa, Muddy Waters ("Country Girl" which has a vocal by Cassandra Wilson), Freddie Hubbard, Charles Mingus, and Hank Mobley (a delightful rendition of "Recado Bossa Nova"). Most of the selections (even the two that include organist Lonnie Smith) utilize a sparse background with the versatile guitarist Fareed Haque, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Billy Drummond leaving plenty of space. This surprisingly modern and subtle program is one of Javon Jackson's finest to date. ~ Scott Yanow