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Ed Jones Quartet - For Your Ears Only Rating: 4 out of 5 Musically the album covers a broad stylistic, emotional, and dynamic range - it’s much more than just a ‘blowing session’, despite its obvious hard bop lineage.

Ed Jones

“For Your Ears Only”

(Impossible Ark Records)

Ed Jones – Tenor & Soprano Sax
Ross Stanley – Piano
Riaan Vosloo – Double bass
Tim Giles - Drums

Ed Jones is a highly versatile saxophonist, who, despite his still youthful looks, has been a stalwart of the British music scene for over thirty years.

Jones first came to prominence in the late 1980s as part of the then burgeoning ‘Acid Jazz’ scene, releasing his début album “The Homecoming” on Gilles Peterson’s Acid Jazz label in 1987.

A prolific session musician Jones has worked across a variety of musical genres and is perhaps best known for his lengthy stint with the jazz/funk/soul outfit Incognito. He has also performed with Us3, Jamie Cullum, Terry Callier, Bootsy Collins, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Carlene Anderson, Noel McCoy and Omar among others.

Jones also has an impressive jazz pedigree, leading his own groups as well as performing with such well known American artists as pianists Horace Silver and Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith, guitarist George Benson, drummer Clifford Jarvis and vocalist Dianne Reeves.

In the UK he has collaborated with pianists Jason Rebello and Jonathan Gee, vocalist Claire Martin, trumpeter Byron Wallen, vibraphonist Orphy Robinson and fellow saxophonist Don Weller and the late Dick Heckstall-Smith. He has also played with the bands District Six, led by South African drummer Brian Abrahams and Nostalgia 77 led by guitarist Ben Lamdin and featuring bassist Riaan Vosloo.

Aside from his own groups I know Jones’ playing best from his work with pianist Tim Richards’ superb nonet Great Spirit (notably the 2006 album “Epistrophy”) and with Killer Shrimp, the band he co-led with trumpeter Damon Brown. Combining jazz rooted in the hard bop era with modern dance music and electronica Killer Shrimp represented something of an update on the ‘Acid Jazz’ template, their sound being documented on the acclaimed albums “Sincerely Whatever” (2006) and “Whatever Sincerely (Tales from the Baltic Wharf)” (2010). My review of the latter can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/whatever-sincerely-tales-from-the-baltic-wharf/

As a sole leader Jones has fronted a variety of acoustic small group line-ups recording the albums “Pipers Tales” (1995) and “Out Here” (1997) and “Seven Moments” (2002), the last named featuring Finnish trumpeter Mika Myllari.

I have fond memories of seeing Jones perform at Brecon Jazz Festival around the time of “Out Here”, an excellent album featuring Jones plus Gee, Wallen, bassist Geoff Gascoyne and drummer Winston Clifford plus a guest appearance on vibraphone from musician turned actor Max Beasley.

Jones’ fifth solo project “A view from…” saw him collaborating with a former Us3 colleague, the producer and programmer Geoff Wilkinson, on an album combining hip hop beats with big band jazz.

More recently Jones has branched out into the world of free improvisation as part the trio Bad Ash, a collaboration with bassist Mark Lewandowski and Mark Sanders, a project doubtless inspired by earlier collaborations with saxophonist Evan Parker and the late drummer John Stevens.

With the aid of an Arts Council grant Bad Ash toured the UK, collaborating along the way with like minded musicians such as pianist Matthew Bourne, saxophonist Paul Dunmall, vibraphonist Corey Mwamba and trumpeters Alex Bonney and Nick Malcolm.

As a composer Jones has received a number of commissions for works featuring electro-acoustic ensembles. He has also written music to be performed by student assembles at Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. A prominent educator Jones holds teaching posts at Leeds College of Music and at the Yamaha Jazz Summer School at Falmouth University.

In 2011 Jones formed a new acoustic quartet, the line up that appears on this album. Inspired by the music of Wayne Shorter the group also includes pianist Ross Stanley, bassist Riaan Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles. Appearing on Vosloo’s Impossible Ark imprint this is actually the quartet’s recording début and the album features a guest appearance from the vocalist and lyricist Brigitte Beraha. The programme consists of four original instrumental pieces by Jones, one by Vosloo plus one song co-written by Jones and Beraha.

The album commences with Jones’ “Nomadology” which features Jones on soprano sax rather than his usual tenor. The leader’s sax floats above the rolling grooves generated by piano, bass and drums but there’s plenty of variation along the way with subtle changes of rhythm and tempo keeping things interesting and allowing Jones to stretch out and probe to good effect. The leader’s serpentine, but consistently engaging, solo is followed by an expansive excursion from Stanley on piano. This highly talented, supremely versatile musician is arguably better known as an organist. This album serves as a welcome reminder of his formidable skills as a pianist. Both soloists are well served by the supple, fluent grooves generated by the experienced rhythm team of Vosloo and Giles.

“Pandora’s Box” sees Jones picking up his tenor to powerful effect as the music strikes more deeply into hard bop territory with a powerful, but highly articulate, sax solo from the leader. Once again he’s followed by Stanley who positively sparkles at the keyboard with his quicksilver runs supported by the propulsive but light footed grooves generated by Vosloo and Giles.

The song “Starbright”, featuring music by Jones and lyrics by Beraha is a delightful dedication to Wayne Shorter. Beraha’s words make subtle allusions to Shorter tune titles in a highly poetic manner, but it’s not an obvious hagiography. The musical performance is delightful with Beraha’s crystalline, Norma Winstone inspired vocals augmented by some delightfully subtle and understated playing by the quartet. Vosloo delivers a beautifully melodic bass solo, Stanley is at his most lyrical at the piano and Giles is superb in his role as colourist, his finely judged percussive detailing adding much to the beauty of the performance. The leader himself keeps a low profile, only making his entrance in the closing stages of the tune as his soprano dovetails with Beraha’s now wordless vocals.

Giles ushers in “Marielyst” at the drums, gradually ramping up the power on an extended introduction. Eventually he’s joined by Stanley on piano and later by Jones on tenor. Clocking in at around thirteen minutes this is the lengthiest piece on the album with the soloists being given plenty of time to develop their ideas, often beginning quietly but then expertly increasing the intensity. Stanley goes first, his expansive solo positively effervescent by the time of its resolution. Jones on tenor also constructs his solo superbly, probing gently at first before increasing the energy levels as his solo spirals and develops. There’s an intensity about the music that is sometimes reminiscent of John Coltrane or McCoy Tyner, which is praise indeed.

Vosloo’s contribution with the pen offers a welcome contrast. “Solstice” begins with the deep, woody sound of the composer’s melodic double bass, eventually joined by the eerie shimmer of Giles’ cymbals. Another lengthy piece, this time with a duration of around eleven and a half
minutes, this is a slow burner of a performance with Jones’ tenor smouldering rather than blazing in the tune’s early stages. Nevertheless there’s a Coltrane-esque air of spirituality about the piece as it slowly unfolds with Jones soloing above waltz like piano chording and the flowing drum colourations of Giles, his mallet rumbles and cymbal splashes adding commentary and punctuation.
Stanley takes over with a thoughtful, probing piano solo underpinned by Vosloo’s insistent bass vamp and Giles’ nimble drum commentary, much of it played on the cymbals. Stanley builds up the tension before gradually releasing it again to facilitate the return of Jones. In a sense this piece is as epic as its immediate predecessor, but in a totally different way.

The introduction to the ten minute plus “Ebb And Flow” mirrors Jones’ fascination with free jazz with a sax and bass dialogue embracing the use of extended techniques. It’s left to Stanley’s sparse piano chording to add a modicum of structure but the reedy piping of the sax, the use of bow on bass and the rustle of percussion keeps the music on the edge of free jazz waters. Jones then picks out a melody that temporarily suggests a return to more orthodox jazz territory, but an intense, forceful passage of Cecil Taylor like piano from Stanley quickly quashes that idea. I’ve never heard Stanley play quite like this before – it’s bit of an eye opener. The tension between the structured and the free is omnipresent throughout the track as themes are sketched or suggested but not fully developed with the collective diving back into the improvisational whirlpool once more. Jones later stretches out on tenor, his playing increasingly garrulous and intense as the music builds towards boiling point with Stanley’s now Tyner-esque piano teamed with busy bass and clattering, bustling drums.  In a sense this is the most conventional passage thus far, but at the same time it’s the most visceral – that dichotomy again. Having peaked at the climax of Jones’ solo the piece resolves itself with the same kind of freely structured dialogue that marked the intro. This final piece is very different to anything I’ve ever heard from Jones before and from that point of view it represents the album’s stand out track, just because it’s so unexpected.

It may have taken Ed Jones some six years to commit the music of this quartet to disc but on the evidence of this recording it’s been well worth the wait. The writing is consistently interesting and the performances first rate.  Musically the album covers a broad stylistic, emotional, and dynamic range - it’s much more than just a ‘blowing session’ despite its obvious hard bop lineage. There’s plenty of strong soloing to keep the purists happy but tracks like “Solstice” and “Ebb And Flow” represent something more adventurous and Beraha’s performance on the beautiful, Shorter inspired “Starbright” is just lovely.

Stylistically Jones may sound more like Coltrane than Shorter, at least to these ears, but this quartet undoubtedly has something of Wayne’s openness and exploratory spirit.

The Ed Jones Quartet will be touring extensively in the UK during April, May and June in support of this album. I hope to cover their performance at The Hive Music & Media Centre in Shrewsbury on 9th June 2018.

Catch them if you can. Tour details are available at http://www.edjonesjazz.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/edjonessax


 

 

 

For Your Ears Only

Ed Jones Quartet

Monday, February 05, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

4 out of 5

For Your Ears Only

Musically the album covers a broad stylistic, emotional, and dynamic range - it’s much more than just a ‘blowing session’, despite its obvious hard bop lineage.

Ed Jones

“For Your Ears Only”

(Impossible Ark Records)

Ed Jones – Tenor & Soprano Sax
Ross Stanley – Piano
Riaan Vosloo – Double bass
Tim Giles - Drums

Ed Jones is a highly versatile saxophonist, who, despite his still youthful looks, has been a stalwart of the British music scene for over thirty years.

Jones first came to prominence in the late 1980s as part of the then burgeoning ‘Acid Jazz’ scene, releasing his début album “The Homecoming” on Gilles Peterson’s Acid Jazz label in 1987.

A prolific session musician Jones has worked across a variety of musical genres and is perhaps best known for his lengthy stint with the jazz/funk/soul outfit Incognito. He has also performed with Us3, Jamie Cullum, Terry Callier, Bootsy Collins, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Carlene Anderson, Noel McCoy and Omar among others.

Jones also has an impressive jazz pedigree, leading his own groups as well as performing with such well known American artists as pianists Horace Silver and Dr. Lonnie Liston Smith, guitarist George Benson, drummer Clifford Jarvis and vocalist Dianne Reeves.

In the UK he has collaborated with pianists Jason Rebello and Jonathan Gee, vocalist Claire Martin, trumpeter Byron Wallen, vibraphonist Orphy Robinson and fellow saxophonist Don Weller and the late Dick Heckstall-Smith. He has also played with the bands District Six, led by South African drummer Brian Abrahams and Nostalgia 77 led by guitarist Ben Lamdin and featuring bassist Riaan Vosloo.

Aside from his own groups I know Jones’ playing best from his work with pianist Tim Richards’ superb nonet Great Spirit (notably the 2006 album “Epistrophy”) and with Killer Shrimp, the band he co-led with trumpeter Damon Brown. Combining jazz rooted in the hard bop era with modern dance music and electronica Killer Shrimp represented something of an update on the ‘Acid Jazz’ template, their sound being documented on the acclaimed albums “Sincerely Whatever” (2006) and “Whatever Sincerely (Tales from the Baltic Wharf)” (2010). My review of the latter can be read here;
http://www.thejazzmann.com/reviews/review/whatever-sincerely-tales-from-the-baltic-wharf/

As a sole leader Jones has fronted a variety of acoustic small group line-ups recording the albums “Pipers Tales” (1995) and “Out Here” (1997) and “Seven Moments” (2002), the last named featuring Finnish trumpeter Mika Myllari.

I have fond memories of seeing Jones perform at Brecon Jazz Festival around the time of “Out Here”, an excellent album featuring Jones plus Gee, Wallen, bassist Geoff Gascoyne and drummer Winston Clifford plus a guest appearance on vibraphone from musician turned actor Max Beasley.

Jones’ fifth solo project “A view from…” saw him collaborating with a former Us3 colleague, the producer and programmer Geoff Wilkinson, on an album combining hip hop beats with big band jazz.

More recently Jones has branched out into the world of free improvisation as part the trio Bad Ash, a collaboration with bassist Mark Lewandowski and Mark Sanders, a project doubtless inspired by earlier collaborations with saxophonist Evan Parker and the late drummer John Stevens.

With the aid of an Arts Council grant Bad Ash toured the UK, collaborating along the way with like minded musicians such as pianist Matthew Bourne, saxophonist Paul Dunmall, vibraphonist Corey Mwamba and trumpeters Alex Bonney and Nick Malcolm.

As a composer Jones has received a number of commissions for works featuring electro-acoustic ensembles. He has also written music to be performed by student assembles at Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. A prominent educator Jones holds teaching posts at Leeds College of Music and at the Yamaha Jazz Summer School at Falmouth University.

In 2011 Jones formed a new acoustic quartet, the line up that appears on this album. Inspired by the music of Wayne Shorter the group also includes pianist Ross Stanley, bassist Riaan Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles. Appearing on Vosloo’s Impossible Ark imprint this is actually the quartet’s recording début and the album features a guest appearance from the vocalist and lyricist Brigitte Beraha. The programme consists of four original instrumental pieces by Jones, one by Vosloo plus one song co-written by Jones and Beraha.

The album commences with Jones’ “Nomadology” which features Jones on soprano sax rather than his usual tenor. The leader’s sax floats above the rolling grooves generated by piano, bass and drums but there’s plenty of variation along the way with subtle changes of rhythm and tempo keeping things interesting and allowing Jones to stretch out and probe to good effect. The leader’s serpentine, but consistently engaging, solo is followed by an expansive excursion from Stanley on piano. This highly talented, supremely versatile musician is arguably better known as an organist. This album serves as a welcome reminder of his formidable skills as a pianist. Both soloists are well served by the supple, fluent grooves generated by the experienced rhythm team of Vosloo and Giles.

“Pandora’s Box” sees Jones picking up his tenor to powerful effect as the music strikes more deeply into hard bop territory with a powerful, but highly articulate, sax solo from the leader. Once again he’s followed by Stanley who positively sparkles at the keyboard with his quicksilver runs supported by the propulsive but light footed grooves generated by Vosloo and Giles.

The song “Starbright”, featuring music by Jones and lyrics by Beraha is a delightful dedication to Wayne Shorter. Beraha’s words make subtle allusions to Shorter tune titles in a highly poetic manner, but it’s not an obvious hagiography. The musical performance is delightful with Beraha’s crystalline, Norma Winstone inspired vocals augmented by some delightfully subtle and understated playing by the quartet. Vosloo delivers a beautifully melodic bass solo, Stanley is at his most lyrical at the piano and Giles is superb in his role as colourist, his finely judged percussive detailing adding much to the beauty of the performance. The leader himself keeps a low profile, only making his entrance in the closing stages of the tune as his soprano dovetails with Beraha’s now wordless vocals.

Giles ushers in “Marielyst” at the drums, gradually ramping up the power on an extended introduction. Eventually he’s joined by Stanley on piano and later by Jones on tenor. Clocking in at around thirteen minutes this is the lengthiest piece on the album with the soloists being given plenty of time to develop their ideas, often beginning quietly but then expertly increasing the intensity. Stanley goes first, his expansive solo positively effervescent by the time of its resolution. Jones on tenor also constructs his solo superbly, probing gently at first before increasing the energy levels as his solo spirals and develops. There’s an intensity about the music that is sometimes reminiscent of John Coltrane or McCoy Tyner, which is praise indeed.

Vosloo’s contribution with the pen offers a welcome contrast. “Solstice” begins with the deep, woody sound of the composer’s melodic double bass, eventually joined by the eerie shimmer of Giles’ cymbals. Another lengthy piece, this time with a duration of around eleven and a half
minutes, this is a slow burner of a performance with Jones’ tenor smouldering rather than blazing in the tune’s early stages. Nevertheless there’s a Coltrane-esque air of spirituality about the piece as it slowly unfolds with Jones soloing above waltz like piano chording and the flowing drum colourations of Giles, his mallet rumbles and cymbal splashes adding commentary and punctuation.
Stanley takes over with a thoughtful, probing piano solo underpinned by Vosloo’s insistent bass vamp and Giles’ nimble drum commentary, much of it played on the cymbals. Stanley builds up the tension before gradually releasing it again to facilitate the return of Jones. In a sense this piece is as epic as its immediate predecessor, but in a totally different way.

The introduction to the ten minute plus “Ebb And Flow” mirrors Jones’ fascination with free jazz with a sax and bass dialogue embracing the use of extended techniques. It’s left to Stanley’s sparse piano chording to add a modicum of structure but the reedy piping of the sax, the use of bow on bass and the rustle of percussion keeps the music on the edge of free jazz waters. Jones then picks out a melody that temporarily suggests a return to more orthodox jazz territory, but an intense, forceful passage of Cecil Taylor like piano from Stanley quickly quashes that idea. I’ve never heard Stanley play quite like this before – it’s bit of an eye opener. The tension between the structured and the free is omnipresent throughout the track as themes are sketched or suggested but not fully developed with the collective diving back into the improvisational whirlpool once more. Jones later stretches out on tenor, his playing increasingly garrulous and intense as the music builds towards boiling point with Stanley’s now Tyner-esque piano teamed with busy bass and clattering, bustling drums.  In a sense this is the most conventional passage thus far, but at the same time it’s the most visceral – that dichotomy again. Having peaked at the climax of Jones’ solo the piece resolves itself with the same kind of freely structured dialogue that marked the intro. This final piece is very different to anything I’ve ever heard from Jones before and from that point of view it represents the album’s stand out track, just because it’s so unexpected.

It may have taken Ed Jones some six years to commit the music of this quartet to disc but on the evidence of this recording it’s been well worth the wait. The writing is consistently interesting and the performances first rate.  Musically the album covers a broad stylistic, emotional, and dynamic range - it’s much more than just a ‘blowing session’ despite its obvious hard bop lineage. There’s plenty of strong soloing to keep the purists happy but tracks like “Solstice” and “Ebb And Flow” represent something more adventurous and Beraha’s performance on the beautiful, Shorter inspired “Starbright” is just lovely.

Stylistically Jones may sound more like Coltrane than Shorter, at least to these ears, but this quartet undoubtedly has something of Wayne’s openness and exploratory spirit.

The Ed Jones Quartet will be touring extensively in the UK during April, May and June in support of this album. I hope to cover their performance at The Hive Music & Media Centre in Shrewsbury on 9th June 2018.

Catch them if you can. Tour details are available at http://www.edjonesjazz.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/edjonessax


 

 

 


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