Sean Jones: The Search Within, Dedicated & Modern Times
The Search Within
Trumpeter Sean Jones is only 30 but here he is with his fifth album as a leader and great work as a sideman.
On The Search Within, Jones finds new colors and textures to extend his musical palette. The album opens with a brief interlude, the yearning title tune (it closes with it as well); the trumpeter's tone is so rich and full that he gives this wisp of a melody weight to color everything that follows. And what comes right after is the explosive "Transition," suggesting the changes in a young musician's life. Jones splashes out choruses of burning intensity while never losing direction. Also incendiary are saxists Brian Hogans (alto) and Walter Smith III (tenor) and the smashing rhythms of pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire.
The titles here talk of the serious work done by Jones as he makes his way through his life and career. "Life Cycles" is a melody that makes its circular way with the beautiful addition of Gregoire Maret's harmonica. And the expressive singing and lyrics of Carolyn Perteete give moving voice to the sad but beautiful "Letter of Resignation".
Tenor saxophonist Ralph Bowen has come to a point in his development as an artist when he wants to pay tribute to contemporaries who have influenced and assisted him. He is a powerful and no-nonsense tenor player with a strong ear for jazz language and tradition, but his dazzling technique reminds the listener of his deep, studied training. That's clear in "E.R.," dedicated to saxophone teacher Eugene Rousseau. It has the texture of an etude but gains clarity and emotional resonance as it progresses. The late drummer Keith Blackley and his father, legendary drum teacher Jim Blackley, are celebrated respectively in the striking tenor-led "Canary Drums" and "Qaiyam"; another sax hero, Pat LaBarbera, is acknowledged in "Pat".
Dedicated is a heartfelt honoring of powerful musical forces. This is mostly Bowen's show but the rhythm team of guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Antonio Sanchez do vital duty. Sean Jones adds a powerful voice to two tunes: "Mr. Bebop," a tribute to the sound engineer David Baker, and "Prof," celebrating trumpeter and teacher William Fielder. The beboppish music is fluid and deftly negotiated by Bowen and Jones, each taking solos that beautifully handle the complex changes and are never showy for showy's sake.
I had the good fortune of releasing an album by the Cleveland legend, late accordionist Pete Selvaggio, and it seems that his son, saxophonist Bobby, has inherited his father's passion. On Modern Times he comes out swinging in a multi-colored affair that suggests how much he has heard and how deftly he blends solid instrumental dexterity with a sense of composition.
The album kicks into gear with the original "Quick Solutions," written with Sean Jones in mind. Jones had worked for two years in Cleveland with the leader's octet and is powerfully in the center of this tune. He and Selvaggio have bold solo sections and find invention in the midst of the fire. Jones is also central to the sinuously funky "Timbuktu Step," a Middle Eastern-flavored groove. He gets through the quirky theme with ease and later solos with beautiful grace while Selvaggio slices and dices through a piece that sounds both simple and complicated at once. As the set proceeds, one becomes thoroughly impressed with the rhythm section: pianist Kenny Werner masters everything from collective improvisation to complex chord changes all without seeming to break a sweat, and bassist Matt Wigton and drummer Nathan Douds offer propulsive and lyrical support. Selvaggio lets the influence of past greats like Cannonball and Phil Woods glow through his playing but also makes it quite clear that his own voice is creative and original.
Tracks and Personnel
The Search Within
Tracks: The Search Within (Interlude); Transitions; The Ambitious Violet; Life Cycles; The Storm; Letter Of Resignation; The Search Within (For Less); Summer's Spring; Sunday Reflections; Sean's Jones Comes Down; Love's Lullaby; The Search Within (Postlude).
Personnel: Kahlil Kwame Bell: percussion; Obed Calvaire: drums; Luques Curtis: bass; Orrin Evans: piano, Fender Rhodes; Brian Hogans: alto sax; Sean Jones: trumpet, flugelhorn; Gregoire Maret: harmonica (4); Carolyn Perteete: vocals (6); Walter Smith III: tenor sax; Erika von Kleist: flute (4, 8, 11).
Tracks: Canary Drums; Pat; Qaiyam; Mr. Bebop; Prof.; E.R.
Personnel: Ralph Bowen: tenor saxophone; Sean Jones: trumpet; Adam Rogers: guitar; John Patitucci: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums.
Tracks: Quick Solutions; Timbuktu Step; You've Changed; Whirlwind; Waiting; More or Less; Out of Time; Fastfood Wisdom; Time Being; Modern Times.
Personnel: Bobby Selvaggio: alto & soprano saxophones; Kenny Werner: piano (tracks 3,4,5,7,9,10); Sean Jones: trumpet (tracks 1,2,6,8); Matt Wigton: bass; Nathan Douds: drums; Dan Murphy: piano; Paul Tynan: flugelhorn.