Saxophonist Jessy J is an in-demand performer known for her distinctive Latin- and R&B-infused smooth jazz. Born Jessica Arellano in 1982 in Portland, Oregon, Jessy J grew up in Hemet, California, the daughter of a Mexican father and a Texan mother. She began playing the piano at age four and spent much of her childhood studying and performing in musical competitions. At 15, she was named Piano State Champion at the Béla Bartók Festival in California. Later, she switched instruments to the saxophone. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in jazz studies, she turned professional, finding work backing Michael Bublé in the recording studio and playing in the touring bands for the Temptations, Jessica Simpson, Michael Bolton, Gloria Trevi, and Armando Manzanero. In 2004, she joined the touring cast of the off-Broadway musical Blast! as a singer/actress/dancer/saxophonist and toured with the show in the U.S., the U.K., and Japan. Producer/guitarist Paul Brown first gave her a featured spot in his show on February 14, 2006, after which she began to make appearances on her own, her first major show occurring at the Catalina JazzTrax Festival later in 2006. She issued a self-titled album in 2007, then signed to Peak Records for her second CD, 2008's Tequila Moon. Her third solo album, True Love, followed a year later.
In 2011, Jessy J returned with Hot Sauce, featuring guest spots from Joe Sample, Paul Brown, Harvey Mason, Ray Parker, Jr., and Saunders Sermons. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Jazz chart. She then moved to the Shanachie label for two more well-received albums; 2013's Second Chances, featuring Jeff Lorber and Norman Brown, and 2015's My One and Only One, featuring longtime collaborators guitarist Paul Brown and keyboardist Greg Karukas. In 2016, Jessy J delivered her first holiday-themed effort, California Christmas. ~ William Ruhlmann