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J.C. Jones: Hosting Myself (2007)

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J.C. Jones: Hosting Myself How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Outline and mien peg J.C. Jones as the prototypal improvising bassist—long and lanky, slumped into his instrument with a sort of focal intensity, like a surgeon—or a butcher—teasing at thick guts. The cover photo of Hosting Myself has all the bearings of an ancient iconology, and there are surely mystical undertones to that title—as if Jones's music were an act of self-sacrifice, a sonic communion.

As a bassist in the solo idiom, Jones engages among the holiest of practices; the ecclesiastics of Charles Mingus and Jimmy Garrison's ceremonial airs root a tradition steeped in mythology, in physical and spiritual force. Fitly, and somewhat uncannily, Jones's music comes from the holy hub of Jersualem, and its power is encompassing and universal.

Jones' Kadima Collective touts the phrase "more than music, and there is a sense of the transcendental in Hosting Myself. What is "more, though, is both surpassing and remarkably grounded—like all truly fine solo improvisation—an abstract sense that there is more to the performance than the spectacle of percussion, wires and vibrating strings. Jones's most immediate precedent, the solo bass pioneer Barre Phillips, has that "sense, too; Jones and Phillips share a knowledge of the bass's penetrating force, its intrinsic soulfulness. Jones's bristling, terpsichorean lines, echoing to the point of mantra, owe a clear debt to Phillips' resonant solo work.

A second, somewhat more oblique reference point is Derek Bailey. Jones gravitates toward a "purer sonic improvisation that leans on timbral, often toneless rhythms as "motivic centers. The use of electronics on Hosting Myself multiplies the density of Jones' sonic architecture, coaxing a visceral quality from the strings. The deadly focus of these pieces, and their commitment to the tiniest report, recall Bailey's shamanistic character; there is spirituality here, in the sheer act of improvising, summoning—and not merely playing—sounds.

As with Bailey's music, there is no explicit spirituality to these recordings. Doubtless, though, there is something magical, almost holy, about improvisation of this nature; Jones touches on all the right levels and degrees, convening a fine offering.

Track Listing: Coming Live Episodes; Cut and Past 18 Studio Short Episodes Which Can Be Listened to At Random; Going Live Episodes.

Personnel: JC Jones: electro-acoustic bass, live electronics.

Record Label: Kadima Collective

Style: Modern Jazz


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