im·pro·vise: never before seen
Release date: (today), Tuesday, July 22, 2014
For trumpeter Sean Jones, it seems that his newest recording im·pro·vise: never before seen is an expression of love. Love for the record label that has supported him for the past ten years, love for his instrument and the art that it creates, love for the artist(s) who influenced him and those who support him on the bandstand, love as experienced through self-acceptance, love of love, and, most importantly, the love he has for his mother. Such resonant expressions have had a place in Jones’ music before, but the quiet knowing, the willingness to be great and to make great music without sacrificing his own sound, the conscious leadership; those are the very things that weren’t always present in the trumpeter’s work. His willingness to step into his own greatness by doing what he's never done as is evident on im·pro·vise opened the music up significantly resulting in what is undeniably Jones' best work to date.
Though the recording is unquestionably a play-uninterrupted-from- start-to-finish caliber recording, several tracks were more than exceptional.
The brooding “Dark Times,” has Jones and longtime friend, collaborator and über-talented pianist Orrin Evans engaging in an affecting exchange of vulnerability and trust. At times, the music dictates that Jones' sound is bolder than Evans’ is, but Evans’ playing is ever-present. Their interplay is a beautiful demonstration of the reality of dark times: in the midst of life’s heaviness, if we pay attention, none of us is ever really alone.
“The Morning After” is a romantic ballad that begins tenderly with Jones and Evans once again displaying some aural magic. Jones' playing here is breathtaking. There are very few musicians on the scene today who can match the emotion that he brings to a ballad and that’s a good thing for the song. As it progresses and the bliss and awe (feelings that usually follow a mature person’s morning after) heard in Jones’ phrasing settle in, drummer Obed Calvaire joins in unleashing a flurry of monstrous beats that transforms the sweet tune into an orgasmic explosion of what was meeting what could be.
Bassist Luques Curtis joins in on the fun with a blistering solo to open the Jackie McLean penned “Dr. Jekyll.” The more prominent bass sound heard throughout Jones’ version of the tune is a nice enhancement and Curtis’ performance makes the tune shine. “New Journey,” described in the press release as the opening movement from a five-part “Date Night Suite,” has a bit of a Latin-jazz feel in some places and a contemporary, high-energy sound in others. Evans contributes “Don’t Fall Off the L.E.J.,” an up-tempo, hard-swinging number that offers the quartet an opportunity to test the limits of recording as a unit. While it’s not clear how often the group performed the song before recording it or how many takes preceded the recorded version, they maintain a sound from start to finish that is flawlessly airtight.
Anyone who’s ever listened to Jones’ music knows of the love he has for his mother. This time around, Jones leans on America’s composer, Stephen Sondheim, to convey the depths of that love. The classic “Not While I’m Around,” sounds like a declaration of unconditional love and unwavering support; just as this writer imagines Jones intended.
One listen to im·pro·vise will reveal a game changer. Gone are the days of “jazz is dead” and “young musicians don’t care about the tradition.” Sean Jones has thrown his metaphorical hat into the ring as if to say, it’s my time. Where jazz music goes from here is a question that people will raise and discuss quite possibly well into the future of the music. But, keep your eye on Jones. He’s ready to take the music to levels beyond the mind’s eye. That’s what improvisation is all about.
Track listing: 1. “60th & Broadway;” 2. “Dark Times;” 3. “Interior Motives;” 4. “The Morning After;” 5. “I Don’t Give A Damn Blues;” 6. “Dr. Jekyll;” 7. “How High the Moon;” 8. “We’ll Meet Under the Stars;” 9. “New Journey;” 10. “Don’t Fall Off the L.E.J.;” 11. “Not While I’m Around”
For more information on Sean Jones, visit the artist's website at http://www.seanjonesmusic.com