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Dan Jonas: The Spirituality Suite

Jack Bowers By

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Utah-based trumpeter Dan Jonas says The Spirituality Suite was written as a response to his own struggles with spirituality in the twenty-first century. The music is thus largely conceptual, or as Jonas explains it, "Much of the inspiration . . . lies in the musical interval of a perfect fourth. The interval can be either consonant or dissonant, where the context in which it appears is the determining factor. Additionally, on one side lies a major third, one of the more beautiful intervals in music, while on the other side is a tritone—one of the most dissonant intervals in music. . . . [I]n some ways this interval (and the intervals on either side) might be representative of the choices many of us are forced to make and the narrow line between right and wrong."

All well and good, but how does the music sound? For the most part, rather amiable and engaging, actually, with some discord and special effects thrown in to make sure the listener is paying attention. Once past the "concept," what remains is a pretty respectable jazz quintet plying its trade on a series of compositions by Jonas whose titles mirror the album's over-arching theme, from "Daniel, in the Lion's Den" to the closing "Requiem for the Soul." Jonas is a perceptive soloist who knows his chord changes, while tenor saxophonist Levi Saelua takes his cue from such renowned modernists as Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, George Garzone and their peers. The rhythm section (pianist Ben Markley, bassist Denson Angulo and drummer Steve Lyman) is sharp and supportive, and each member solos with assurance when called upon.

Although much of the music is decorous and even-tempered, there are moments of intensity and excitement, as on "Daniel," "Salvation" and "The March to War." Most of the dissonance is confined to "The Altar of Intellect," while special effects are used productively on "The Fermi Paradox" (with Saelua doubling on bass clarinet, as he does on "Salvation"). Jonas has a good ear for melody, and none of his themes disappoints in that respect, nor are there any rhythmic lapses. Premise aside, a well- planned and meticulously performed small-group session with much to recommend it.

Track Listing

Daniel, In the Lion's Den; Salvation; The Altar of Intellect; The March to War; The Politics of Power; Charon, the Ferryman; The Fermi Paradox; Requiem for the Soul

Personnel

Dan Jonas: trumpet; Levi Saelua: saxophone; Ben Markley: piano; Denson Angulo: bass; Steve Lyman: drums.

Album information

Title: The Spirituality Suite | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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