Jessica Jones Quartet: Word (2008)
The provocative Word takes a few bites from different pies, making it quite an interesting album. This is a Jones family projectleader, pianist and saxophonist Jessica is joined by husband Tony (saxophone), daughter Candace (vocals) and son Levi (bass).
Jessica Jones, Bay Area native, is now a resident of Brooklyn. Both she and her husband have a background working within the free jazz community with artists including Joseph Jarman, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor and Peter Apfelbaum.
The album presents two separate musical faces, described as Sides 1 and 2. The first seven tracks showcase a small combo accompanying Candace Jones. Jessica plays piano, with drummer Lou Grassi, bassist Dayna Stephens and husband Tony fleshing out the quartet.
Side 2 conjures up images of the 1950s beat poetry movement that sprung up in San Francisco and the poetry of Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso who were accompanied by name jazzmen in the North Beach section of San Francisco.
Candace Jones is a sparkplug for this album, which gives her a great opportunity for exposure. She's vocalist who with an obvious, albeit untrained, jazz sensibility. Her opening track Jessica Jones' ballad, "Everything Is," and is pure jazz boite/coffeehouse. Her voice slinks around the words perfectly, her savvy recalling various significant jazz vocalists. An up-tempo tribute to "Miss Kelly's," an Oakland, California late-night restaurant, ensues and includes a hip tenor solo from Tony Jones. The singer is also handed a way up-tempo version of the standards "Yesterdays," as well as the classic ballad, "My Romance."
Candace Jones' final vocal, "What Purpose is Your Pain," is a good segue to Side 2 bringing in bassist Filiano, drummer Wollesen and Jessica Jones on tenor. It is filled with the tension and edginess that defines Side 2.
The use of what is called "po'jazz" is a thorny subject. Usually a creative connectivity of the beat poetry movement from the 1950s and mainstream jazz worked with the press but alienated a certain percentage of the jazz public. Abe Manieri and Arisa White's poetry is both literate and in keeping with the inside-outside jazz accompaniment. On readings like White's "Saratoga Avenue" and Manieri's "Daddy's Music and Love Talk" are right on target but it may be necessary to circumvent previous imprinted memories from times spent long ago in a jazz/beat poetry coffeehouse.
Liner information correlates Side 2 of this album with Charles Mingus' A Modern Jazz Symposium of Music and Poetry (Bethlehem, 1957). It is a feasible connective and the musical voices of trombonist Jimmy Knepper, saxophonist Shafi Hadi and drummer Dannie Richmond. If your heart is still located on that scene, tune in on this one.
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).