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Jackie Myers: Clementine

by Kevin Rabas

(8 April 2020)


Personnel: Rod Fleeman (guitar); Ben Tervort (bass); Todd Strait (drums); Trent Austin (trumpet); Brad Gregory (saxophone), and Jackie Myers (vocals and keys). Jackie Myers becomes even more remarkable the longer she is here. Her new live album, Clementine, charts and celebrates some of that progression. It’s an engaging—even fun—album. (If I were you, I’d get it.) Full of all originals, Myers shows her consummate skill as a songwriter, both with music and lyrics. And she’s accompanied by an all-star KC cast, who are allowed to stretch out during this session and do what they do best: make an energetic, cohesive, supportive sound. The album’s title track exhibits Myers’ great skill as a songwriter. It gives a glimpse of a working musician on the road phoning home to her love. Here’s an excerpt, full of authenticity and pluck: “Doin’ great on the road. I’m playing every night. I think I’ll make it home in the spring time. If you can send some cash, I’ll try to make it last. This time, I’ll get it right.” Although some might call it musical sacrilege, I like this phone call given in lyrics better than Joan Baez’s in “Diamonds and Rust,” and that’s saying something. I love that song. The instrumental musicians all seem in top form and in the spirit on this album. Rod Fleeman glows as an accompanist on guitar. And his solos also shine. The horns are brassy and sassy. Todd Strait opens up on drums, giving some uncharacteristically flashy passages when he trades 4s and 2s. It’s like everyone is here for the party, and it’s time to open up. Like in some Beat loft party, I want to shout, “Go, man. Go!” Except in rare instances, it seems as if it is sung--and it's jazz--it's most often a song from the 1920s through the 1960s. It's not something someone would say or sing today. But this is where Jackie Myers comes in. Her songs are contemporary, modern. She’s one of our own era’s songwriters, speaking to today’s questions. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a talented singer and pianist to boot. She can bring it all together: music, lyrics, voice. I've had friends say, "I'll leave if I hear 'Misty' sung one more time." To turn an ear to those "standard" lyrics, no young woman wants to be seen as a helpless kitten in a tree nowadays. And the songs of Jackie Myers are not that type. They're about modern love, strong independent women, gigging musicians calling home from the road, and making sense of contemporary life. In a glowing review, Bill Brownlee (of KC's “Plastic Sax” jazz blog) compares Myers's new album to Carol King's remarkable hit album of everlasting original songs, writing, "Clementine often resembles Tapestry with the addition of a horn section….Myers' sturdy songcraft on eight original compositions provides Fleeman and the other soloists with abundant inspiration." But just how modern is it? If you have an Amazon Echo, with its sea of inexplicable free songs, you can say, "Alexa, play Jackie Myers: 'I Get High,'" and the song will come on. What can I say? The robot has good taste. Jackie Myers is a regular live-streamer on Facebook (and beyond). Here are some key words you can use to tune in, as well as ways to contribute. Jackie Myers LiveStream VENMO: Jackie-Myers-Music PAYPAL: jackie.myers.band@gmail.com This is an upbeat album full of a kind of contemporary, quirky joy. It makes me want to listen again and again. And I do. (Go get it.) (Album recorded live at the Black Dolphin, 1813 Grand Blvd, KCMO.)

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