Saxophonist Jackiem Joyner from Norfolk, Virginia, has a good name in the smooth jazz genre. With his albums Baby Soul (2007), Lil’ Man Soul (2008) and Jackiem Joyner (2010) he has built up a strong following.
So far we had only known that he played with Marcus Johnson from 2001–2004, and also performed with Bobby Lyle, Angela Bofill, George Duke, Najee and many others.
With his new album Church Boy (2012) he gives us the first glimpse into the dark ages of his youth. In Mack Avenue's biography he reports about the difficult times, when he found himself with no money, no job and homeless.
“I found myself praying a lot because these were very difficult times,” recalls Joyner. “No one knew I slept in my car for a month. I learned that if I didn’t experience those hard times, I believe my character would have been different. I don’t think I would have become the strong Christian that I am now.”
This bitter experience and the consolations of his faith do explain his new album, which has a strong connection to gospel music. The first song You Are Good can be characterized by two adjectives: up-tempo and uplifting. The album really starts in full swing.
Also on City On Our Knees Jackiem does things in style and offers the whole gamut. Kirk Franklin's song of encouragement I Smile has a strong God-centeredness. It is no coincidence Jackiem invited to this piece Kirk Whalum. Kirk is well known as a preacher of the Lord.
Kirk Franklin's live presentation of Hosanna shows an animated man who spent out on the move and call. Understandable that Jackiem impressed by this show chose this piece as second cover. "One of my favorite songs that meant so much to me during a very tough time in my life,” states Joyner, “is the Percy Bady-penned, Still I Rise, beautifully recorded originally by the incomparable Yolanda Adams." You can tell by his interpretation, how much he has internalized this song.
Tye Tribbett's Bless The Lord (Son Of Man) finds a worthy echo supported by Jonathan Butler on acoustic guitar. Justin Bieber's Pray develops under Jackiem's gifted hands in full bloom. Free Fallin' offers Urban music in the style of the famous Unwrapped series. Fine R&B mixed with a thick breeze of sax.
This Is My Song is as the title reveals Jackiem's very own composition. A strong melody, which stands any comparison with the other songs. With Sunday Jam Jackiem opens the door to smooth jazz and funk. Virtuosity as it best. The album closes with the classic hymn Jesus Loves Me. Jackiem arranged the song with great fervor.
Church Boy is Joyner's commitment to God and the gospel music. He has covered catchy songs with a high recognition value and the implementation is always perfect. However he should give on the next album his talent for composition more recognition.