Jeanette Harris is the scintillating saxtress of smooth jazz. This lady understands that energetic and captivating performances matched with uplifting and inspiring vibrations in the music are the solid platinum recipe for success. Fans already recognize her for her wonderful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “All I Do,” which hit Billboard’s smooth jazz singles chart from her previous album, Saxified. Classically trained in both sax and piano, a graduate of Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music, and the saxophonist for the late, great Teena Marie’s final year of touring, Jeanette has weathered the fiercest challenges to bring the world her own brand of soulful healing vibes. That baptism awaits in her fourth CD, Summer Rain, on which Jeanette had a hand in writing all of the selections except her lovely cover of the Luther Vandross classic “Here and Now.” Its 13 sunny songs that wrap the listener in the glow of fun love grooves and sweet romance.
“The music of Summer Rain is all about a positive vibe,” Jeanette states. “It’s about staying in love…never falling out of love, feeling good, being faithful and always following a positive route. Great things have happened for me in the last year. I’ve learned what’s really important in life – my family and my music.”
Those looking to hear Jeanette really dig in on her horn should focus on two songs that feature her friend Darrell Crooks on guitar. The first is the dreamy “Take Me There,” a sensual mellow groove that finds Jeanette layering her horn in subtle combinations that tease, tickle and mesmerize the ear. And then there’s “The Ride,” a techno groove that bumps into some truly heated interplay and exchange between Jeanette and Darrell that makes you want to see what all of that energy looks, sounds and feels like live on stage. Other highlights include the playful “Ja’licious” (Jeanette’s sassy melding of the word “jazz” with “delicious”), the radiant “Oh So Good” and the laidback groove “Chillin’.” “My rapper friends say they can really flow on that one,” Jeanette shares with a laugh.
Extra special are the passionately building “Passing Time” (a song featuring keyboardist George Freeman that initially came to her - out of the blue - in the shower), the lusciously melodic “Just Keep Holding On” (one of two writing collaborations with the prolific Chuck Cymone), and the spicily syncopated “Muy Caliente’” – Jeanette’s maiden foray into Latin Groove on which she also plays some mean piano. Listen closely…ai cuidado!
The love-at-first-sight scenario song/title track of Summer Rain showcases the vocals of Jeanette’s secret weapon singer Joel Bowers – math teacher by day, soul crooner by night. “One of my trademarks is writing a song for a vocalist then having the instrumental version on the same album,” she offers. “On my CD Saxified, I wrote the lyrics first for ‘You Can Dance’ then reworked it for my saxophone. I switched it up for ‘Summer Rain’ and wrote the music first, then the words. I wrote the lyrics with my mother and think it’s beautiful. It’s about a guy who sees a pretty lady in the rain and falls for her instantly. It’s important to remember those moments…especially when that person makes you angry! Reflect on that memory. You’ll be more humble and understanding.”
Equally inspired, but in a completely different light is Summer Rain’s other vocal piece, “Thankful,” a heartfelt offering of gratitude sent up to Jesus in song. “It’s important to give thanks to The Lord,” she says. “‘Thankful’ came from my heart with lyrics that I truly feel deeply.”