Due to the time he spent studying at Youngstown State and gigging in Cleveland, trumpeter Sean Jones has built a large following in Northeast Ohio and indeed many of his fans made their way to Night Town on a recent Sunday evening for two well attended sets. Backed by his ensemble of musicians from the Pittsburgh area, Jones was consistently inspired and the maturity that he displayed is something that many musicians twice his age have yet to acquire. From the first notes of "In Her Honor, the trumpeter's powerful voice came through loud and clear with little in the way of amplification needed. Also in evidence were the incendiary flutter tongue runs and other Freddie Hubbard licks that the trumpeter has assimilated as part of his own style.
As technically proficient as Jones' work has become, what makes him a truly great jazz man is the way he judiciously uses his gifts, expertly pacing his solos and building climaxes with an engaging ebb and flow. This was especially apparent throughout Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes, with Jones displaying a great range of emotions and using space that provided for articulate musical punctuation. As a writer, Jones is also blossoming and a deeply heartfelt "B.J.'s Tune engaged with its mesmerizing vamps and the trumpeter's impassioned solos.
As a test of endurance for any budding jazzman, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps has provided the litmus test for many years now. Considering how challenging this opus can be taken in its customary four beats to the bar, you had to marvel at Jones and company who had the tenacity to swing it hard in 5/4. Towards the end, the trumpeter and drummer James Johnson III turned the pots on high with a fiery dialogue that was one of the highpoints of the evening. Equally compelling was a run through "Take the Coltrane that found guest alto man Bobby Selvaggio matching the trumpeter tit for tat in the solo department. Without a doubt, Jones has what it takes to become the next great jazz trumpeter. He has chops to spare, but knows how to use his technical agility to best serve the purposes of the music.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.