For the remarkable composer/trumpeter/educator/activist Sean Jones, the pursuit of Jazz is a most serious endeavor. Not just in terms of mastering the art form, but in its fullest meaning and purpose socially, philosophically and spiritually. Deeply influenced by his immersion in Gospel music in the church as a youth, Sean had an epiphany at the age of 19 while he was a student at Youngstown State University. That awakening occurred - as it has for so many serious-minded individuals both inside and outside of music - with his first hearing of the magnificent John Coltrane’s masterpiece A Love Supreme.
“I was driving in my car at the time and I had to pull off the road. All at once, everything just came together for me. My past, my present, my future. I knew the course I needed to pursue.”
Always a devout and focused young man, Sean sang and performed as a child in the choir at St. James Church of God in Christ in his hometown of Warren, Ohio. Originally a drummer, he discovered Jazz and the trumpet at ten years old upon hearing Miles Davis – specifically Kind of Blue and Amandla.
“Miles is probably the single most powerful influence on me as an artist. His overall vision, the way he changed with the times, the purity of his sound.”
Committing himself seriously to the instrument, the gifted young musician was also fortunate to have studied privately with the eminent teacher and great trumpeter Esotto Pellegrini. Perfecting technique through his studies, Sean was also developing his ears in the longtime Jazz tradition of absorbing the artistry of the masters through listening.
“Woody (Shaw) and Freddie (Hubbard) were first and second for me. And then there was Clifford (Brown), who I had to go back and discover through those two men.” He also cites Wynton Marsalis, whose personal work ethic and ability to break barriers had a deep effect on the emerging artist.
“When I saw Wynton’s picture on a classical album, I knew there were no limitations on me; everything could be within my grasp.”
Five years later, after receiving his Master’s Degree from Rutgers University (where he studied under the renowned Professor William Fielder, who also taught Marsalis) Sean had a 6-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wynton offered Sean a permanent position as lead trumpeter and Jones remained there until 2010, participating in two recordings.