Born: May 29, 1978 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
As we’ve all been told, birds do it, bees do itbut anyone who’s actually gone to the trouble of falling in love knows that it’s a lot more complicated when humans get involved. Which can make the reality of relationships a bit disappointing for those weaned on a steady diet of radio-friendly love songs, but can also provide a much richer experience than it’s possible to describe in a couple of verses and a chorus.
As has become evident over the course of his five previous albums, Sean Jones is particularly adept at plumbing complex emotional depths through his trumpet playing and composing. So when he set his mind to recording a set of love songs, it should come as no surprise that he delved into the evocative nuances of love rather than the more obvious boys-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl generalities.
“I didn’t want to do your typical love songs record that just deals with one aspect of love,” Jones explains. “Not just the love from a man to a woman or the positive emotional side of falling in love. I wanted to do an album that really dealt with a few different shades of love.” 2010 was certainly a year of change for the trumpeter. In the spring he stepped down from his position as Lead Trumpeter of Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a position that Jones held for over half a decade. Additionally, he formed a new relationship with Marcus Miller, joining the bassist this past summer for a European tour.
Now, in 2011, the title of Jones’ sixth CD, No Need For Words, sums up his overall approach. This is music that cuts straight to the emotional heart, whether dealing with passion, sensuality, parental nurturing, or spiritual forgiveness. Regardless of the particular feeling involved, Jones and his band communicate directly and movingly. “It’s definitely an emotional statement,” Jones says. “I tried to make sure that the melodies I created and the vibe that I put on each particular tune really carried the message rather than having it expressed verbatim.” The title track itself, however, refers specifically to one aspect of love in which the verbal becomes unnecessary: the physical, carnal side, represented by some of Jones’ most sensual playing, his horn virtually reaching out of the speakers to lower the blinds and light the candles in the room where you listen.
“Look and See”, on the other hand, opens the album with a bright, engaging fanfare played by Jones and his longtime frontline partner, alto saxophonist Brian Hogans. The tune represents a far less intimate, more universal brand of love, something that Jones found missing from the repertoire as he prepared the album.
“I was thinking about the universality of love while we were on tour in Russia,” Jones recalls, “and I started asking people, ‘What do you think about love?’ One young lady said, ‘Love is all around you. All you have to do is look and see.’ I immediately was inspired and started to hear music.” That sort of inspiration is key to Jones’ creative process. Despite his penchant for creating albums that revolve around a central theme, those concepts arise out of the music he writes, not vice versa. “I allow the music to dictate what kind of album I’m going to put out,” he says. “I don’t like to write music that’s contrived. For the past couple of years I’ve really been dealing with different types of love, so that’s the music that’s been speaking to me lately.”
Jones’ parents have both figured into that line of thinking. The gorgeous melody of the soulful “Momma” is such that, despite the album title, listeners may find themselves searching their memories for a forgotten lyric; it’s the type of song that instantly insinuates itself into the consciousness, seeming as familiar as a half-forgotten song. “Lately I’ve been seeing how my mother is getting older and I just want to make sure that she knows I love her and I appreciate what she’s given to me,” Jones says. “She’s not old by any means, but I wanted to give her her flowers while she’s living.”
With a darker but ultimately redemptive view of the parent-child relationship, the gospel-inflected “Forgiveness (Release)” deals with the composer’s long-held feelings toward his father. “’Forgiveness’ is specifically about letting go of the anger I had harbored up towards my father. It wasn’t necessarily about forgiving him or accepting his apology as much as it was about letting the situation go. I think that’s really what forgiveness is about, getting rid of the actual happening of the event so that you can move on with your life.”
Anger also enters into romantic relationships, expressed in the electrically-charged “Love’s Fury”, which features guitarist Matt Stevens responding to Jones’ request for a savage growl. “I told him, ‘I want it to sound like some kind of animal is going to come through the speakers and rip you apart.’ I tried to make it sound as nasty and evil as I possibly could.” The disjointed, angular stop-start of “Touch and Go” depicts the back-and-forth, love-hate, on-again/off-again aspect of many relationships, while Hogans’ “Obsession (Cloud Nine)” reflects just what the title suggests, the all-consuming nature of love. But Jones’ view of love isn’t all so jaded; “Olive Juice,” driven by Khalil Kwame Bell’s churning percussion, was inspired by a friend’s newfound love and takes its title teasingly from an episode of Friends. Despite the multifarious views of amour represented on No Need For Words, an entirely different type of chemistry runs throughout the albumthat between Jones and his bandmates, the core of whom are together for their fourth CD in five years. Jones assembled the rhythm section for his 2006 album Roots, after observing the fact that Miles Davis’ groups were comprised not of the legendary trumpeter’s friends but from the strongest available talent.
“Miles didn’t really hire his boys,” Jones says, who plans to tour with Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller and Wayne Shorter in Europe this summer, a direct nod to the Miles Davis legacy. “Miles just went out and got the people he thought would fit best together to create something new. I think it’s easy to hire people that you’re comfortable with: we know them, we know they can play, we’ll know they’ll get it done. But I tried to pick people who I’d played with but didn’t necessarily know all that well, bring them together and see what kind of sound came up. And the rhythm section that came out of that is very unique.”
That section consists of Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans, whose recent projects include his raucous Captain Black Big Band and the collective group Tarbaby; bassist Luques Curtis, who co-leads a Latin-oriented quartet with his pianist brother Zaccai; and Miami-born drummer Obed Calvaire, who has also performed with Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Watson, Lizz Wright and Steve Turre. No matter what angle they take on the subject, Jones and company’s blazing interactions reveals what any jazz fan knows is the greatest love of all: that between an artist and his music. As Jones says, “I like to play from the heart and not the head.”
emphasizes his gospel heritage and his ability to gild and gird various vocalists, two more reflective settings that showcase his range. His jazz scholarship is impeccable. Minneapolis Star Tribune
Three-Time Rising Star Downbeat Critics Poll
He sets the standard for the next generation of jazz musicians... Bravo! ATLANTA JAZZ
remarkably talented singers whose impact upon recording sessions, or in live concerts, cannot be denied. Kaleidoscope is one of those CD’s that offers so much content, so many special moments to savor, that a four-sentence review wouldn’t have sufficed. JazzReview.com
Jones is excellent every time he picks up his horn. Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Sean Jones embodies the 21st century jazz musician, an experimental, supremely talented type whose vision and sensibility encourages inclusion rather than separation. Amazon.com
Mack Avenue Records
Track listing: 1. Children's Hymn; 2. Roots; 3. Divine Inspiration; 4. God's Gift; 5. Come Sunday; 6. Lift Every Voice; 7. Offering Time; 8. Conversations; 9. El Soul; 10. Puddin' Time; 11. What We Have; 12. John 3:16; 13. I Need Thee.
Personnel: Sean Jones: trumpet; Mulgrew Miller: piano (#1-6); Kenny Davis: acoustic and electric bass; Tia Fuller: alto sax, flute; Orrin Evans: keyboards (#7-13); Ron Blake: tenor saxophone (#9-10); Walter Smith III: tenor saxophone (#4,6); Andre Heyward: trombone (#10); E.J. Strickland: drums (#1-6); Corey Rawls: (#7-13).
Mack Avenue Records
Track listing: 1. Gemini (Phase 1) 2. In Her Honor 3. Reign of Patience 4. Blues for Matt B 5. BJ's Tune (Life in the Hand, Divine) 6. Mission Statement 7. Gemini (Phase 2) 8. Into the Sun 9. Chillin' at the Grill 10. T.V. Land 11. Momma's Groove 12. Gemini 13. Gemini (Phase 3).
Personnel: Obed Calvaire: Drums; Orrin Evans: Piano, Arranger, Keyboards, Fender Rhodes; Eddie Howard, Jr.: Organ; Jerome Jennings: Drums; Sean Jones: Trumpet, Flugelhorn.
Mack Avenue Records
Tracks: 1. Gullyism 2. Eternal Journey 3. John 4. The Serpent 5. You Are My Everything 6. God Bless the Child 7. At the Last Minute 8. Searching 9. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Bruce's Rainbow) 10. 95 South 11. The Very Thought of You.
Personnel: Sean Jones - Trumpet; Charles Fambrough - Bass; Ralph Peterson - Drums; Tia Fuller - Saxophones, Flute; Mulgrew Miller,Orrin Evans - Piano.
Mack Avenue Records
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Professor of Trumpet and Jazz Studies - Duquesne University - current Adjudacator - North Carolina Regional Essentially Ellington Festival - 2006 Clinician - Carolina Jazz Festival - 2006 Clinician - Depaul University - 2006 Clinician - The Ohio Jazz Summit - 2004, 2006 Guest Speaker - Miller Elementary School - 2005 Clinician - Michigan State University Jazz Spectacular - 2005 Clinician and Performer - The Morehouse College Jazz Festival - 2005 Guest Speaker - Kinski Area High School Bands - 2005 Clinician - Yamaha Day of Trumpets - 2005 Guest Speaker - CAPA High School - 2005 Clinician and Performer - Dickinson College - 2003, 2005 Instructor (Trumpet) - Montclair Music Prep Division - 2003 Instructor (Trumpet and Pedagogy) - Jazz Connections - 2002 Adjunct Professor (Jazz Trumpet) - Youngstown State University - 2000-2001 Instructor - East Cleveland Public Schools - 2001