My two major intersections with Jay are touchstones of his career that tell you a lot of about his Jamaican  roots.  In the nineties I was able to connect Jay with one of his inspirations in a Harbourfront Centre Soul ’n Blues concert with Memphis soul master Rosco Gordon.  This revealed how much American radio travelled into Jay’s youth in Jamaica.  Sadly Rosco passed away only a couple years later.  Our second occasion was a more obvious Jamaican collision given that guitar innovator Ernest Ranglin was at the heart of reggae, ska, mento and his own blend of jazz.  At 14 tracks, the new Jay Douglas release is a generous affair giving the listener a trip through the many influences that have shaped the Toronto icon’s career.  The title track is one of the classic covers included in the session, from a 1949 Ray Charles release, but things start off with Rosco and Surely I Love You, a funky upbeat version that sets the pace for more soul, r&b, blues blending.

Bobby Blue Bland, Dave Bartholomew, Johnny Ace, Freddy Fender / Ivory Joe Hunter provide tunes that straddle the bountiful decades of touring cruise ships, house gigs and backing the greats.  Of course Jay is an artist in his own right, crafting four originals and he also dips way back to the first song he sang as a teenager, a doo wop number Darling I’m Yours by the Scarlets.

Producer Eddie Bullen (Thunder Dome Sounds) wove together a solid talent crew with Larnell Lewis (drums), James Anthony (guitar), Alexis Baro (trumpet) and guest vocalists June Garber and Nana McLean, fusing the retro soul / r&b with Toronto “stylee” arrangements.  Confession moves seamlessly from across genres, straight blues at the heart, with early rock, jump blues, deep soul, all the influences of a career that began after the teenage Jay arrived from Jamaica in 1963 and performed with the Cougars.

As Jay’s fans well know, Seattle-based record label Light in the Attic solicited Douglas for his music and knowledge in the creation of the CD compilation, Jamaica to Toronto (soul, funk and reggae 1967-1974), a landmark work that speaks to how Canadian music evolved, especially in the Mega City!

Today Jay is beginning to be recognized more often as audiences have come to acknowledge his legacy, having moved like a cat through music styles, fluid and graceful honouring his mentors.  With the release of Confession, Jay Douglas is bound to be recognized properly as a music pioneer and champion.  If you love funky soul blues, you need to get to Confession! – Derek Andrews.