Artist: Dyles Mavis
Single: Jammed Up & Jelly Tight
Review By: Dan MacIntosh
The first hint that Dyles Mavis is serious about music is found in its name. In case you didn’t notice, this moniker is a play on the name of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. The rap/R&B trio is comprised of Sean (Smoov) McBride, Eric (Smokey) Tucker and Jared Baisley, all of whom met as freshmen at University of California, Riverside. The act’s Album title, Jammed Up & Jelly Tight, is also a clever throwback reference to an old song. Clearly, this group knows its music history!
The combo, which began with the name Jus-tus and has even dabbled in film work by helping score the film Traces of Tragedy, shows an affinity for the jazz music its puny name references with the pretty “Butterflies.” This lightly funky song incorporates plenty of jazz piano, and just a touch of jazz trumpet. Lyrically, the track also reveals sophistication, as it speaks to that point in a relationship where one partner no longer
feels those nervous butterflies when the other is around. In addition to its natural musical elements, this recording features vocal harmonies worthy of the great vocal group Take 6, as well as a gentle rapped section. From start to finish, this song’s a winner.
Another album highlight is “Microphone.” On the quiet song that brings to mind Earth Wind & Fire’s heyday, Dyles Mavis sing about a girl that reminds them of their microphone. Just like a microphone, which stays close and picks up every sung and said word, this loyal woman is always right there. “Sunshine” is yet another song that shows off how Dyles Mavis can stretch out, much like a jazz combo. Just listen to the extended acoustic piano part at the end of the song. It’s fairly obvious that this was something that happened spontaneously in the studio, and was kept for fun. Ah, but thank goodness they kept it on the record! It’s a really nice, acoustic interlude, if you will, that just makes the album shine even brighter.
A song like “Surreal” is something one could reasonably expect to hear on smooth jazz stations. It has a quiet keyboard-based melody, with a ‘quiet storm’ backing vocal. Its lead vocal is hushed, yet desperate. The song’s melody creates a mood, ripe with sexual tension.
Dyles Mavis shows its rap side during “Glasses,” which features a lighthearted beat and a rap that comes off more like a conversation than any display of verbal dexterity. One titled “Never Stop Loving You” may be the closest thing this album has to a contemporary R&B song. It sports studio enhanced vocals, a distinctly polished rhythm track with the beat way up front in the mix and group melodic backing vocals, rather than the sort of close harmonies found in many other places on the project. Although this track will, perhaps, give the act a shot at radio airplay, it’s not the best example of what these artists can do. Maybe this is just a personal preference thing here, but the music is much more enjoyable whenever there are throwback elements or traditional jazz and R&B touches.
Ironically, there is nothing on this release that will remind you even slightly of the song “Jammed Up, Jelly Tight.” But that doesn’t really matter. What matters most is that Dyles Mavis is a talented trio; one with the potential to appeal to audiences, both young and old. Pop music can be so trendy. In fact, its very name amply implies ‘of the moment.’ However, when you discover an act that can span the past and the present so seamlessly, as Dyles Mavis often does, it’s truly a beautiful thing. This is a group with a really big up side, so don’t ever let them out of your sight.
Review By Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
Artist: Dyles Mavis
Album: Jammed Up & Jelly Tight
Reviewed by Jason Randall Smith
It’s been almost a decade since the members of Dyles Mavis began to write their first songs together while attending the University of California, Riverside. Known as Jus-tus’ back then, Sean McBride, Eric Tucker, and Jared Baisley have maneuvered their way through various musical avenues, picking up the influences of hip-hop, R&B, jazz and soul within their travels. Jammed Up & Jelly Tight represents the culmination of these various genres fighting for their attention. It should be noted that this doesn’t lead to an ADD-styled bounce from one musical form to the next, but rather a well-honed and seasoned sound that captures the best aspects of each genre, carefully blending them into soulful compositions.
Since the trio’s title plays around with a particular jazz icon’s name, it’s not surprising that this album is immersed in a cool mood right from the first cut. “Butterflies” is a sonically seductive opener that introduces the listener to the many talents of each member. With top-notch musicianship, reflective rhymes, and lush vocal harmonies, the bar is set extremely high for the songs that follow, but the group never fails to bring quality material to the table. While “Butterflies” examines a relationship cooling down and nearing its potential demise, “Full Time Love” revels in the joy of the chase. The rolling piano hook sounds like springtime as drum programming clicks away in the background and keyboard stabs sparkle in the mix.
Among the ten songs featured on this album, there are a few that hint at the pop potential for this group, the type that seem primed for heavy rotation. “She’s Cold” bears that distinction, an up-tempo R&B cut with punchy horn riffs and catchy background vocals surrounding the chorus. “Sunshine” veers in another direction, unveiling a feel-good pop structure accented by handclaps and a “ba bop ba ba” sing-along phrase you can’t help but get caught up in. “Never Stop Loving You” heads straight for the clubs with a muffled bass line, synthesized chords, and frozen snare pads. Given that these guys can really sing, the prerequisite use of Auto-Tune on this cut is quite peculiar. One listen to the smooth atmosphere of “Microphone” and it’s more than obvious that their collective vocal cords don’t need any digital assistance.
If Dyles Mavis really wanted to secure their chances of superstardom, all they would have to do is churn out more songs like “Rocketman.” Its verses feature hip-hop poetics over poignant pianos while the memorable chorus increases in volume and intensity, accompanied by a blistering guitar solo. It’s the type of song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Kanye West or Lupe Fiasco album. Of course, if Dyles Mavis did decide to go that route, we might miss out on songs like “Constellations.” This is spacious soul beamed down from another galaxy, perfectly anchored by warbling bass tones and shuffling percussion.
Jammed Up & Jelly Tight closes out in fun fashion with “Glasses,” a cut especially for those who “got the hots for the bookworms.” Over playful piano triplets and punchy horns, Dyles Mavis bounces back and forth between witty raps and pitch-perfect crooning. The sunny disposition of the closing track mirrors the feeling of the album as a whole. Kudos must go to producers Laythan Armor and Haskel Jackson, who always manage to find the right balance for this group’s influences behind the mixing boards. Between those gentlemen in the booth and a wealth of session musician help, this talented trio has a great support system in their corner. Combining jazz sophistication with hip-hop swagger and the romanticism of R&B, Dyles Mavis has tapped into a crossover sound that will appeal to music lovers worldwide.
Reviewed by Jason Randall Smith
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Artist: Dyles Mavis
Title: Jammed Up and Jelly Tight
Review by Alex Henderson
Miles Davis was a highly influential figure in jazz; the late trumpeter had as great an
impact on bop, cool jazz and post-bop as he did on fusion. So when a group’s name is
a play on Davis’ name, one tends to assume that some type of jazz is involved. But the
music that the vocal trio Dyles Mavis offers on Jammed Up and Jelly Tight is not jazz
per se. Rather, Dyles Mavis’ music is neo-soul with jazz overtones and a strong hip-
hop influence; stylistically, this group has more in common with Erykah Badu and Jill
Scott than it does with Miles Davis. Anyone who expects Jammed Up and Jelly Tight to
sound like The Birth of the Cool, Kind of Blue, ESP or Bitches Brew will be disappointed.
But from a modern R&B perspective, this album has a lot going for it. Like the album’s
clever, catchy and memorable title, the group’s sound and style, epitomizes “cool”.
Like Badu, Scott, D’Angelo, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Jaguar Wright
and other neo-soul artists, Dyles Mavis have one foot in the past and the other foot
in the present. Dyles Mavis’ neo-soul isn’t an exact replica of the old-school soul of
the 1970s, but they get a great deal of creative inspiration from that era. And many
of the grooves on Jammed Up and Jelly Tight recall the soul and funk that singer/
vibraphonist Roy Ayers offered in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Ayers started out
as a straight-ahead jazz instrumentalist, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s (when he
enjoyed his greatest commercial success), Ayers’ focus was vocal-oriented soul and
funk with jazz overtones. And Dyles Mavis bring that type of approach to “Full-Time
Love,” “Butterflies,” “Surreal,” the dreamy “Constellations” and other songs on this
release. But unlike Ayers’ late 1970s and early 1980s hits, Dyles Mavis’ material is full
of rapping. Melodically and harmonically, Dyles Mavis have a lot in common with the
recordings that Ayers was putting out 33, 34 and 35 years ago, but the hip-hop element is
definitely something that separates Jammed Up and Jelly Tight from the recordings that
Ayers gave us during his You Send Me/Fever/Let’s Do It/No Stranger to Love period.
Another old school 1970s influence that Dyles Mavis bring to the table is Stevie
Wonder. The Southern Californians make some Wonder-ish moves on “Microphone”
and “Rocketman” (not to be confused with Elton Johnson’s 1970s hit). But again, the
hip-hop element prevents them from sounding like they are actually emulating Wonder’s
1970s recordings. And it should be noted that the rapping one hears on this album
doesn’t bring to mind the thuggish outlook of gangsta rap or the cartoonish hedonism
of crunk; instead, their rapping has more in common with the artsy alternative rap of
Common, Kuf Knotz, De La Soul, Digable Planets, the Roots and the Pharcyde (minus
the humorous eccentricities that some of those artists are known for).
One of the most intriguing songs on this album is “Glasses,” which finds Dyles Mavis
expressing their attraction to women who wear glasses. A wide variety of female attire
has been celebrated in R&B and hip-hop over the years, ranging from miniskirts to daisy
dukes to sundresses to tight jeans. But the way that Dyles Mavis send a shout out to
women who wear glasses is certainly different.
The good-natured “Sunshine,” is the album’s least hip-hop-minded track. Most of the
tunes on Jammed Up and Jelly Tight blend singing and rapping in a characteristically
neo-soul fashion, but “Sunshine” favors singing all the way and is less jazz-influenced
than most of the other tunes.
Most of the time, Dyles Mavis avoid sounding generic. The exception is “Never Stop
Loving You,” which comes across as formulaic alongside the free-spirited soulfulness
of “Glasses,” “Butterflies,” “Microphone” or “Full- Time Love.” Most of the time,
however, Jammed Up and Jelly Tight is a memorable outing from Dyles Mavis. This
group is well worth checking out.
Review by Alex Henderson
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)