Justin Young is hungry. The energetic and enthusiastic saxophonist is all about hustle and hard work. For over a decade, he’s put out quality soul-jazz albums, but his forthcoming disc, “Blue Soul,” captures an artist hitting his stride on the cusp of a major breakthrough. Mining his Detroit roots, Young’s fourth album, due November 17 via JustnTime Records, features a dozen new songs recorded live in the studio with premier musicians, producers and songwriting collaborators. Paving the way for the collection is the new single, “High Definition,” a vibrant R&B/pop confection just shipped to radio stations, a tune that Young penned with fellow soul-jazz saxman Jackiem Joyner and keyboardist Matt Godina.
The release of “Blue Soul” caps a lengthy recording odyssey for Young. His approach for this outing was purposely different and taps into the Motown lore that influenced his musical discoveries while growing up.
“I started work on this album three and a half years ago. There have probably been about 40 different songs written for this album. In the past, I would write twelve songs, and then enter the studio quickly and put out an album. But for ‘Blue Soul,’ I wanted to take a different approach and put the absolute best songs out, really push myself to elevate the standard this time around,” said Young, who had a hand in writing all but one song on the album. “‘Blue Soul’ goes back to my roots in music, Detroit, the home of Motown. I loved the creativity of musicians recording together in the studio, creating an amazing vibe. The opportunity to put high-quality musicians together along with amazing producers has always been my dream. I watched this growing up and listened to the Motown stories. ‘Blue Soul’ goes back to my love of jazz and soul music. It’s organic, it’s played by consummate musicians and it truly is soul music with saxophone at its beating heart.”
Throughout “Blue Soul,” Young’s alto, tenor and soprano sax is embedded amidst rhythms and grooves constructed by the likes of bassists Alex Al and Hussain Jiffry, and the late drummer to the stars, Ricky Lawson. Former Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist-vocalist Sheldon Reynolds is another notable player who fortified Young’s lilting harmonies and undeniable melodies. The first single, “Always There,” one of four cuts written and produced by Joyner - a Billboard chart-topper in his own right - hit the Billboard Top 25 and the Smooth Jazz Top 20 Countdown. “Jazz Along The 101,” one of three tracks shepherded by gospel producer Noel Hall (Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond), kept Young’s momentum motoring along with both singles garnering daily spins on SiriusXM’s Watercolors. In response to Hurricane Harvey, he released the hopeful “Song For A Better Tomorrow” (https://youtu.be/PoL8NtcUwFw), donating the track’s proceeds to the American Red Cross. “High Definition” promises to take him into 2018 on a high note with a wealth of potential singles in the offing.
Young began in music as a drummer and was introduced to a wide array of styles - from R&B and pop to jazz and gospel – by his father, Jim Young, who led and played in a variety of bands, encouraging his scion to play sax. Landing his first professional concert at age sixteen, Young put himself through Michigan State University by playing weekend gigs. He issued his debut album, “Rendezvous,” in 2003. After winning a competition at the famed Capital Jazz Fest in 2007, he released “On The Way.” A move to Southern California helped his following multiply quickly when he booked a year-long residency at Spaghettini, a hot spot for the contemporary jazz crowd south of Los Angeles. Gigs on the national festival circuit ensued as did subsequent recordings, “Home for the Holidays” and “Nothin’ But Love.” Young previewed music from “Blue Soul” at a Detroit show held at Chene Park last July with 5,000 people in attendance and at a sold-out date in August when he returned to Spaghettini. Now based near Seattle, he will support the new record with a series of local concerts at nearby wineries this fall. Resourceful and brand savvy, Young produces and plies his effervescent personality as the host of “The Justin Young Audio Experience,” a podcast that teaches musicians about the business of music. For more information, please visit www.JustinYoungSax.com.
“Blue Soul” contains the following songs:
“Nothin’ But Love”
“Jazz Along The 101”
“Song For A Better Tomorrow”