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Jessica Jones: More "Word"

By Published: March 24, 2009
Also, I have to say, I am deeply influenced by Tony, my husband, to whom I've been listening since we were in high school together. He has the ultimate in a personal sound to me. We have played together a long time, and I think the core of the sound of the band is the sound of him and me together, the sound of the space between us.

Jessica Jones QuartetAAJ: The poetry/jazz connection is an interesting take here, both old school—Patchen, Rexroth, Kerouac, etc.—and new school, as in hip-hop and rap. Can you comment on your obvious love of poetry?

JJ: Well, my mother talked a lot when I was growing up, and also I talk a lot. I just like the sound of words and the phrasing and music in peoples' use of them. I remember writing a lot of limericks in third grade. I liked the rhythm of them, I think. I can remember the room and the circumstance and the feeling like a frozen moment, of the first time I heard Dylan Thomas reading "A Child's Christmas in Whales," and the first time I heard "Rappers Delight," and Mingus' "Fables of Faubus" by Mingus. These things just strike me, resonate in me.

Words don't sound particularly different from music to me, they sounds like the same spectrum of sound. Like a different hue, but still on the spectrum. I love hearing ways of using words that are not just words on top of music but as one of the elements of the sound, of the ensemble. It's also auditory but works what feels like two parts of the brain at once—the sound of the words and then their meaning. It's like smelling something that you are touching; there's a lot to process at once. It's challenging. And the human voice also is very direct, goes straight to your spine. I like that too.

AAJ: And this might explain why you chose the saxophone, for the vocal qualities of its sound?

JJ: Probably.

AAJ: How does this unique interaction between husband and wife—saxophone and saxophone—effect your creative process?

JJ: I think we listen to music in a similar way—we'll be listening and our ears will perk up at the same things. We do spend a lot of time discussing different players and composers and what we like about them. I like living with someone who is searching on the same path as me. It's not that we are finding the same things, or even interpret life all that similarly, but we have company on the same path.

Also, our kids are both musicians, which is a wonderful thing to have in common with your family. There's something very magical about the nonverbal communication in music, and to have that common ground with the people you love—even while you might get annoyed at their behavior—is very cool. It's like having one foot in the real world, but all of us having access to this other dream world also, and having that experience in common.

Jessica Jones / Tony Jones Jessica and Tony Jones

And it's inspiring to feel someone else in the house working on music; it makes me want to work on it too. Tony and I each work on different things, but then we come together to try them out with each other. I think we learn a lot from each other. We each have our strengths, which have been interesting for me to realize over time, and to try to incorporate those strengths in composing. I think also we each feel deeply accepted by each other in our approaches. That might sound a little corny, but it makes the atmosphere feel completely safe for utter insanity and innovation.

Selected Discography

Jessica Jones Quartet, Word (New Artist, 2008)
Peter Apfelbaum & the NY Hieroglyphics, It Is Written (ACT, 2005)
Jessica Jones Quartet, Nod (New Artist, 2004)
Jessica Jones Quartet, Shake (Independent, 2002)
Joseph Jarman, Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Human (Bopbuda, 2000)
Jessica Jones Quartet, Family (Nine Winds, 1997)
Marco Eneidi-Glenn Spearman Creative Orchestra, Marco Enedi-Glenn Spearman Creative Orchestra (Music & Arts, 1996)
Don Cherry, Multikulti (A&M, 1988)

Photo Credits

Top Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Jones

Bottom Photo: Jacqueline Ford, courtesy of Jessica Jones

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