Jessica Jones Quartet: Word (2008)
Jazz has always had its own poetry. Not just the music, but the language. Recall hearing Cab Calloway or Louis Armstrong give an introduction from the bandstand or the cadence of Lester Young and Slim Gaillard's words. Jazz has always had its own idiom. It is poetry, and it is easy enough to understand that poetry is/can be jazz.
The combination of the two is the focus of this Jones family affair. Saxophonist Jessica Jones is joined by her husband and saxophonist Tony Jones, son and bassist Levi Jones and the blossoming talent of vocalist Candace Jones. Word is a two-part conception of music and spoken word and music as sung lyrics.
The described "Side A" is seven tracks featuring the very fresh vocals of Candace Jones, a mix between Ella Fitzgerald and Ricki Lee Jones. She delivers each song in a refreshingly straight manner that allows focusing on the words instead of the style. Other than the standards "Yesterdays" and "My Romance," seven of the album's sung tracks are original compositions. Band leader Jessica Jones wrote and arranged some classic music here, with a nod to Cole Porter's Tin Pan Alley writing on "The Roses," a sweet ballad "Everything Is," and a sly Broadway number with "Come Down The Hall." Between the vocal delivery and lyrics are Tony Jones and ubiquitous drummer Lou Grassi's swinging playing.
The band provides a segue between sung and spoken word with "What Purpose Is Your Pain," giving way to the freer sounds of French hornist Mark Taylor, drummer Kenny Wollesen, bassist Ken Filiano and the two Joneses on tenor saxophones. The ingenious approach reveals the possibilities of not just a band backing a singer, but the voice as instrument.
All this leads to "Side B," the second half of the recording, a poetry reading intertwined with Jessica Jones' jazz. Poets Arisa White and Abe Maneri deliver lines against Jessica Jones' music. White's "Saratoga Avenue" is a dance of words that spill over two horns and keeps splashing with visuals. Likewise Maneri fills the mind with words and thoughts that requireno encouragerepeated plays to get all of his metaphors. The music scores the poetry nicely; as practiced, the verse is delivered as if in song form. As improvising artists they naturally take on a freeform piece with "No Misunderstanding." The open-sided track allows for the poets to trade words as do the musicians' notes, creating both less and more to think about.
Track Listing: Everything Is; Miss Kelly's; The Roses; Yesterdays; My Romance; Come Down The Hall; What Purpose Is Your Pain; Saratoga Avenue; Daddy's Music And Love Talk Talk/Diagnosis Henry; I'm Calling/Two Psalms; Mo Misunderstanding.
Personnel: Candace Jones: vocals; Tony Jones: tenor sax; Jessica Jones: piano, tenor sax (8-12); Dayna Stephens: bass; Lou Grassi: drums; Mark Taylor: French Horn (8-12); Kenny Wollesen: drums (8-12); Ken Filiano: bass (8-12); Levi Jones: bass (11); Arisa White: poetry (8-12); Abe Maneri: poetry (8-12).