December 2008

Winning Over Traditionalists?

By Mark Saleski
Jazz.com

Sweet Baby J'ai

Exactly Like You (Perpetrating)

Sweet Baby J'ai
Introducing J'ai Michel
(SMG)

This version of "Exactly Like You" could not be more different in style from my favorite rendition, performed by Guy Van Duser and Billy Novick. While the more modern, funked-up angle on the track might offend some purists, the real point of interest is the addition of an overlaid spoken-word section. Sweet Baby J'ai makes the case that it's not impossible for the youth of Hip-Hop Nation to also be into the likes of Little Jimmy Scott, Coltrane and Philly Joe Jones. She has a point. She also has an incredible voice. One that might win over the traditionalists and thus render moot my cliché about purists being offended by funked- up angles.

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