One of the jazz trumpeters whose music I haven’t really explored yet is Sean Jones. But after listening to his latest release im.pro.vise = never before seen, I think there’s a lot of Sean’s music that needs to be explored! Matt Collar writing at AllMusic describes Sean as a “firebrand musician with a bent toward muscular post-bop.”
Jones was raised in his hometown of Warren, Ohio with a strong background in gospel music. As a young student at Youngstown State, he had an epiphany after hearing Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. On his website, he says this about the experience…
“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.”
While listening to Coltrane may have solidified his pursuit of jazz as a career, it was the music of Miles Davis that led him from the drums and the church choir to the trumpet, specifically, it was Miles’ classic Kind of Blue along with Amandla that did it! Sean says this about his influences ……
“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.”
“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.”
Wynton Marsalis also had an impact on Sean’s career.Initially, Wynton’s classical album, gave Sean the confidence that anything was possible, and later Wynton would offer Sean the position as lead trumpet in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, a position Sean held for several years and two recordings. Jones held that position until 2010.
Over the years, Sean has released seven albums on Mack Avenue Records, along with recording with a variety of jazz artists, but im.pro.vise = never before seen is different! The album is his first quartet album recorded with his longtime bandmates, pianist Orrin Evand, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Obed Calvaire. What really makes it different is that he recorded it old school, just the four musicians alone in one room playing together!! Sean says this about the album…..
“All of my previous albums were ‘productions’ with overdubs, etc,” says Jones. “This time it was just the four of us in one room, no barriers between us, playing live.” The sense of immediacy and urgency that has always been a key element of the jazz art at its highest level is front and center throughout this entire album. Another essential tradition of looking back to look forward is also omnipresent here, and that includes the full scope of that legacy from its blues roots to its freer explorations.
I love Sean’s trumpet and basically the album. In addition to Sean’s trumpet what makes this album really work for me, is the piano of Orrin Evans, which is absolutely dynamic on the album. A while back I listened to Orrin Evans’ Captain Back Big Band album Mother’s Touch and I didn’t like it all that much, but after listening to Orrin’s piano on this album, I think that I have to listen to the album again, along with some of Orrin’s solo albums!
Back to Sean’s album, one of the tracks that I was really drawn to was “Dark Times”, I really love the opening melody. This is what it says on Sean’s website about the song…..
“Dark Times” was written over 10 years ago while Jones was pursuing his Masters Degree at Rutgers. “It’s a reflection of a time of struggle and uncertainty…and my decision to put it aside and just move ahead.” As the atmospheric, darkly lustrous rubato opening moves into the fluidly lyrical theme, that depiction is vividly stated. With a freely floating tone reminiscent of Miles’ Filles de Kilimanjaro period, Jones demonstrates his command of the Miles philosophy of time and space where what’s not played is as important as what is..
Sean is another jazz musician that is deeply involved in education! Currently he is Associate Professor of Jazz at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh….
…. In 2012 he also became Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In addition, master classes and clinics are a regular part of his activities, providing more than a dozen annually all around the world.
Despite this intense level of activity, Sean also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras, overseeing their annual four concert and six concert series, respectively. Equally committed as an activist and advocate, Sean is focused upon trying to organize the various Jazz orchestras all over the country to offer this glorious art form in as rich, substantive and compelling a manner as possible.
So check out the music of this outstanding artist and person…..