I’m no fan of Javon Jackson’s most recent album, Now (Palmetto, 2006), where the tenor saxophonist puts a tepid spin on R & B, mixing originals and covers of tunes associated with, e.g., Robert Flack and James Brown. But he's one of mainstream jazz’s most reliable players, a graduate of the informal school of hard bop known as the Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers. He kicks off a stint at the Jazz Showcase tonight that pairs him with redoubtable soul-jazz pianist (and occasional singer) Les McCann, still best known for his partnership with saxophonist (and Chicago native) Eddie Harris; their classic 1969 album, Swiss Movement (Atlantic), is one of the sacred texts of soul jazz. Here’s hoping that his presence will bring out the grit missing on Now. The band also includes Henry Johnson on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. The group performs tonight through Sunday.
Guttorm Guttormsen Quartet, Soturnudi & Albufeira (Plastic Strip)
Original Silence, First Original Silence (Smalltown Superjazz)
Shelagh McDonald, Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (Castle)
Walt Dickerson, Vibes in Motion (Fresh Sound)
Various Artists, Não Wave (Man Recordings)