In 2020, we were introduced to Justin-Lee Schultz when he released the album Gruv Kid. Across the board, this teenager has received countless acclaim. It is obvious that this is a once in a generation talent.
Well, Maybe not. 2022 has brought us more of the teen wave when it comes to Jazz. Justin, along with his sister Jamie-Leigh Schultz and friend Jaden Baker have formed the group J3, and their debut album Opus 1 is ready for take off. The instrumentation is off the charts, and they offer some original tracks, as well as some tributes to Chick Corea, Michael Jackson And Jeff Lorber.
“Music takes me to my happy place,” shares Justin. “As soon as I start playing or listening to my favorite artists, any bad emotions fade away.” His sister Jamie adds, “It helps me express myself when words fail,” while Jaden confides, “It’s my first love. Music provides a specific peace for me that nothing and no one else can.”
Let’s check out the album and see what all the hype is about!
Review – Opus 1 by J3
The set begins with a remake of Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, the Michael Jackson classic, and in our opinion, one of the top three dance songs of all time. The piano play in the first verse seems effortless, but there is so much energy, that you forget that Justin is all of 15. Jamie Leigh is on the drums is incredible, as she knows her way around a drum kit. Jaden is holding it down on bass, and this is a version of the song that we did not know we needed.
Junebug is next. At first listen, it has the vibe of a Stevie Wonder track. The guitar sound is heavenly, and the other instruments compliment it well. This is a song where you say to yourself, “MAN, these kids really know what they are doing!”
Vibe Cleanse is the epitome of cool for 2022. It is part jazz, part rap and part storytelling. The chill groove is glorious.
Eldos has a Jeff Lorber Fusion type of feel. It is piano driven, and it leans more traditional in nature vs. Contemporary in its approach. Either way, it is a big song, and you definitely feel all of the instruments as they jam out.
We get a little change of pace with Justice. This song is difficult to translate into words, but the overall flow is something you would associate with musicians that have been playing for 30 years.
My Playground has a sound that is young and fresh, something you would expect from a group of teenagers. All three musicians have their opportunity to show their skills, and their cohesiveness shows off in a big way.
If you are ready for a little funk, then check out Look To The Sky. It has an 80’s feel with those synthesizers, and this is a track that would make George Duke proud. You want some danceable jazz? This is it. They even throw in some vocoder sound for good measure.
Hela is next, and the drums really stand out, due to the uniqueness of the clicking sounds. The piano and keys take the lead, and there are several ebbs and flows throughout that will keep your attention.
Stainless Steel is a Jeff Lorber composition, and this is one of those ultra-uptempo songs that is in the “key” of Mr. Lorber. He does not play on the song, but you can tell that his fingerprints are all over the track.
Got A Match? is a tribute to Chick Corea. You just have to laugh because they are really doing the damn thing. These three are really unstoppable.
To close out the album is a Michael Jackson Medley. They give you parts of Remember The Time, Love Never Felt So Good, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, and P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing). Check it out below.
J3 can really do it all. From Traditional Jazz, Funk, and Contemporary Jazz, they have a handle on what music should sound like in today’s landscape. You can stream the album Opus 1, starting April 15.
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