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Melvin Jones: Pivot

Edward Blanco By

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Melvin Jones offers a variety of musical styles on Pivot, with a selection of modern romp and simmering ballads on this very impressive debut as a leader. For the trumpeter, "pivot" is the defining moment—indeed the turning point—in which different genres come together in one special album. Jones contributes the majority of this thirteen-piece, nearly all original repertoire, borrowing a few charts from Atlanta saxophonist Mace Hibbard and pianist Louis Heriveaux

No novice in the world of jazz, the Atlanta-based Jones has performed with the likes of Don Braden Clark Terry, Terence Blanchard, Carmen Lundy and Freddy Cole—the trumpeter being especially proud of is his membership in the late great Illinois Jacquet's last band and the saxophonist's last recording at New York's Lincoln Center in 2004. For this session, Jones chooses a core quintet of players, employing five others as special guests, firing on all cylinders and producing an amazing ensemble sound.

The sizzling "Jug-or Knot" provides a preview of what's to come; a hot and heavy tune, layered with plenty of individual solos, sets the stage for the album. Richard Smallwood's Gospel-tinged "Angels" reveals a slow warm ballad featuring some light horn play from Jones, with call-and-response from Hibbard. The group powers up for Hibbard's electric "Inception," propelled by blazing saxophone lines, Leon Anderson's hot drum solo from, and Jones' dicey trumpet solo. The title piece is one sweet number, showcasing the leader on flugelhorn, while he takes full advantage of the funky "Philly Time Zone," demonstrating a searing, high-pitch approach on trumpet.

The swing and swagger piece of the disc goes to "Do You Wor Kalogne?," a Hibbard concoction highlighting the saxophonist, Jones and Heriveaux 'samazing piano chops. "Flights Beyond," a calm floating ballad, is blessed with a beautiful airy melody led by Jones on the muted horn. After the funky "Funkytown Shuffle" and the hard-driving "Chaos Groove," the album closes with the short and sweet "Goodnight Moon," completing a firm foundation from which to build a strong musical career.

Employing a warm and round sound across the full range of the instrument, Melvin Jones stylish approach draws comparison to some great trumpeters like Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan. Pivot is a remarkably well-done musical project full of powerful moments sure to shine the light on Jones as a musician and leader.

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