Although Jocelyn Michelle has been playing the Hammond B3 for many years in Florida, Los Angeles and Hawaii, she has not been given a chance to lead her own CD until this year’s “Time to Play”. Eager to show what she is capable of, Jocelyn does not hold back and treats us to the myriad styles she works with in the fields of jazz, blues, rock and RnB. Although personal varies a bit per song, most songs feature a small horn section, as well as guitar, drums and percussion. Husband John Rack plays the guitar on the RnB tunes, while Bruce Forman carries the jazzier numbers. Likewise, the smooth tone of saxophonist Doug Webb covers the be-bop flavor, while Steve Mann is featured on the funkier tracks.
The first four tracks on “Time to Play” are probably the best, or at least the most energetic. “Englewood Cliffs” is driving up-tempo hard bop, “Sylvia’s Song” is Latin soul in the style of early Santana, “Trouble Man” is a Marvin Gaye cover given a Steely Dan style swing, and “A Sister’s Love” is hot funk jazz ala Eddie Harris or Grover Washington. Things get a little more mellow when Gina Saputo sings Michelle’s Bossa Nova original, “Oh No, I Could be in Love”. Although the high energy level drops a bit here, it is a very well written original, both in music and lyrics, and it is well sung too. The rest of the CD is good as it moves from more bossa to bop and a dramatic instrumental ballad in “Never Let Me Go”. “The Pink Panther Theme” may seem like an odd choice for a serious jazz band, but Jocelyn makes it work by using enough horns to give it some interesting arrangements. The CD closes with another vocal original called “The Loss”. Once again, it’s a well composed tune, and sung emotionally by Regina Leonard Smyth, but its country-gospel style that recalls Bonnie Raitt or Don Henley, is a bit of a surprise on this otherwise jazzy CD.