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Ed Jones Quartet - Ed Jones Quartet, The Hive Music & Media Centre ,Shrewsbury, 09/06/2018. Rating: 4 out of 5 A superb all round performance that demonstrated Jones' ability as both a saxophonist and as a composer / arranger.

Ed Jones Quartet, The Hive Music & Media Centre, Shrewsbury, 09/06/2018.

Ed Jones - tenor & Soprano saxophones
Ross Stanley – piano
Riaan Vosloo – double bass
Luke Flowers - drums

The British saxophonist and composer Ed Jones brought his excellent quartet to The Hive on the last night of a fifteen date UK tour in support of his most recent album, the highly recommended “For Your Ears Only”.

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 saxophonists 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). 

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 “For Your Ears Only” with Stanley, Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles. It was only some six years later that the group finally released their début recording, issued on Vosloo’s Impossible Ark record label. The recording features a guest appearance on one piece by vocalist Brigitte Beraha, herself a previous visitor to The Hive as one half as a duo with pianist John Turville. The song “Starbright” features music by Jones and words by Beraha, who is also an accomplished lyricist.

Tonight’s programme featured a mix of material from the “For Your Ears…” album, a couple of newer, yet to be recorded pieces and two remarkable explorations of jazz standards. The band featured album personnel Jones, Stanley and Vosloo with Luke Flowers deputising on drums for Giles who had had to leave the tour part way through due to the serious illness of his young son. Hopefully all is now well. The young Leeds based drummer Jordan Dinsdale had filled Giles’ role for three shows with Flowers handling the other two, hence tonight was only Flowers’ second ever appearance with the band, although he has previously worked with Jones as part of the Killer Shrimp project. He acquitted himself superbly and even brought something of Giles’ style to the proceedings. Flowers has also performed with Manchester based trumpeter Matthew Halsall and with London based vocalist Zara McFarlane amongst others and occupies the drum chair in the acclaimed Cinematic Orchestra.

The quartet commenced with “Nomadology”, a Jones original and the opening track on the album. This modally based piece featured the leader on Coltrane-ish soprano sax, probing deeply and sinuously on a serpentine solo that crested the rolling grooves generated by Stanley, Vosloo and Flowers. Jones left the stand as Stanley took over at his Nord keyboard, deploying the acoustic piano setting that he was to maintain throughout the concert. Stanley, also a hugely accomplished organist, matched Jones for imagination with a skilfully constructed solo that combined complex left hand chords with inventive right hand runs in a compelling mix. A word too for Flowers’ busy, often flamboyant, drumming which echoed something of Giles’ inventive and idiosyncratic style.

Next up was a standard, albeit one that represented a new tune for this particular quartet and one which had been debuted on this tour. Written by Kermit Goell and Fred Spielmann the song “You Won’t Forget Me” was the title track of a 1991 album by pianist / vocalist Shirley Horn which featured Miles Davis as a sideman on one of the trumpeter’s last ever recordings. Jones learnt it from another saxophonist,  the American Walt Weiskopf (born 1959) and the quartet’s version was based on Weiskopf’s recording. Here Jones stated the theme on tenor before handing over to Stanley for the first solo. Jones then followed him on tenor prior to a closing drum feature from Flowers. Interestingly tonight was essentially an all acoustic performance, with the necessary exception of Stanley’s keyboard, something that mirrored the previous Shrewsbury Jazz Network event at The Hive when the young saxophonist Alex Hitchcock had adopted a similar approach with his quintet.

Jones moved back to soprano for another original, “The Fifth Season”, a piece yet to be recorded but already earmarked for the quartet’s next album. This was a more reflective offering with the leader stating the theme before probing gently, but deeply on his solo. Stanley was similarly thoughtful and lyrical while Flowers’ impressed in something of a colourist’s role deploying a variety of brushes, sticks and mallets.

The first set concluded with a stunning, Coltrane inspired version of the classic jazz ballad “Body And Soul” with Jones & Co. digging deep into the architecture of the tune as they stretched out with lengthy and exploratory solos, Stanley going first on piano, followed by the impressive Vosloo on double bass and finally Jones on tenor.

If anything the second set was even better as the quartet placed the focus more unequivocally on original material The new Jones original “Accidents and Emergencies” was introduced by a lengthy passage of unaccompanied piano from Stanley. As the rest of the band joined in Jones stated the theme on soprano before handing over again to Stanley, the pianist soloing with a feverish inventiveness as Flowers drummed up a storm behind him. Jones’ own dazzling solo on soprano was sometimes reminiscent of the great Dave Liebman in full flight. A drum feature from the increasingly impressive Flowers followed before Jones headed for the skies once more. This was another tune scheduled for the next recording, on the evidence of tonight it’s an album that should be well worth waiting for.

“For Your Ears Only” includes “Solstice”, an impressive and atmospheric offering from the pen of Vosloo. Appropriately this was introduced by an extended passage of unaccompanied double bass that emphasised Vosloo’s dexterity, melodic sense and superior technique. This was a slow burner of a piece, the kind of abstract but evocative ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on an ECM recording. Jones was featured on tenor, his solo a model of controlled intensity as Flowers again fulfilled the colourist’s role, adding bare hands to the other tools of the drummer’s trade. Stanley’s piano solo combined thoughtfulness and lyricism with a sharper, flintier improvisatory edge before the piece resolved itself with a closing theme statement from Jones.

Also from the “For Your Ears..” album Jones’ “Marielyst” was inspired by the experience of walking on sea ice off the Danish coast. A lengthy piece with a strong sense of narrative, this was introduced by Flowers at the drums with an elegantly constructed feature. Jones then stated the theme on tenor before passing the baton to Stanley, who delivered a needling, gently probing solo that gradually developed in intensity, bolstered by Vosloo’s grounding bass grooves and Flowers’ increasingly energetic drumming. Jones then stretched out on tenor, gently exploratory at first but then becoming more forceful, his authoritative soloing fuelled by the muscular rhythms generated by Stanley, Vosloo and Flowers. Finally the music peaked before subsiding into a more freely structured closing passage with Vosloo’s bowed bass and the eerie piping of Jones’ tenor seeming to replicate the creaking of the ice.

Surprisingly this had been the poorest attendance at an SJN event in 2018, a combination of other events in the town (one jazz, one classical) plus the glorious summer weather conspiring to frustrate the organisers. Nevertheless a crowd numbering somewhere between forty and fifty and seated cabaret style had proved to be a great listening audience and responded to this superb original music with great enthusiasm.

Although the second set had only featured three tunes each had represented a lengthy excursion and the band were requested to play a ‘short encore’ due to the impending curfew at the venue. This proved to be a delightful ballad arrangement of Oscar Levant’s “Blame It On My Youth” featuring Flowers on brushed drums and with solos from Jones on tenor and Stanley at the piano. It was the perfect way to wind down after the intensity of the second set and concluded an evening of excellent music making overall.

I’ve always considered Jones to be something of a tenor specialist but I was hugely impressed with his playing on soprano in a superb all round performance that demonstrated his ability as both a saxophonist and as a composer / arranger. It’s always a treat to see Ross Stanley on either piano or organ and I was also highly impressed by both Vosloo and Flowers.

Those that stayed away missed something of a treat. Meanwhile the next album from this talented quartet, presumably with Giles back in the drum chair, will be keenly anticipated. My thanks to Ed Jones, Ross Stanley and Riaan Vosloo for speaking with me after the show and to SJN’s Hamish Kirkpatrick for the photograph that accompanies this review.

Ed Jones Quartet, The Hive Music & Media Centre ,Shrewsbury, 09/06/2018.

Ed Jones Quartet

Monday, June 11, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

4 out of 5

Ed Jones Quartet, The Hive Music & Media Centre ,Shrewsbury, 09/06/2018.
Photography: Photograph by Hamish Kirkpatrick of Shrewsbury Jazz Network.

A superb all round performance that demonstrated Jones' ability as both a saxophonist and as a composer / arranger.

Ed Jones Quartet, The Hive Music & Media Centre, Shrewsbury, 09/06/2018.

Ed Jones - tenor & Soprano saxophones
Ross Stanley – piano
Riaan Vosloo – double bass
Luke Flowers - drums

The British saxophonist and composer Ed Jones brought his excellent quartet to The Hive on the last night of a fifteen date UK tour in support of his most recent album, the highly recommended “For Your Ears Only”.

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 saxophonists 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). 

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 “For Your Ears Only” with Stanley, Vosloo and drummer Tim Giles. It was only some six years later that the group finally released their début recording, issued on Vosloo’s Impossible Ark record label. The recording features a guest appearance on one piece by vocalist Brigitte Beraha, herself a previous visitor to The Hive as one half as a duo with pianist John Turville. The song “Starbright” features music by Jones and words by Beraha, who is also an accomplished lyricist.

Tonight’s programme featured a mix of material from the “For Your Ears…” album, a couple of newer, yet to be recorded pieces and two remarkable explorations of jazz standards. The band featured album personnel Jones, Stanley and Vosloo with Luke Flowers deputising on drums for Giles who had had to leave the tour part way through due to the serious illness of his young son. Hopefully all is now well. The young Leeds based drummer Jordan Dinsdale had filled Giles’ role for three shows with Flowers handling the other two, hence tonight was only Flowers’ second ever appearance with the band, although he has previously worked with Jones as part of the Killer Shrimp project. He acquitted himself superbly and even brought something of Giles’ style to the proceedings. Flowers has also performed with Manchester based trumpeter Matthew Halsall and with London based vocalist Zara McFarlane amongst others and occupies the drum chair in the acclaimed Cinematic Orchestra.

The quartet commenced with “Nomadology”, a Jones original and the opening track on the album. This modally based piece featured the leader on Coltrane-ish soprano sax, probing deeply and sinuously on a serpentine solo that crested the rolling grooves generated by Stanley, Vosloo and Flowers. Jones left the stand as Stanley took over at his Nord keyboard, deploying the acoustic piano setting that he was to maintain throughout the concert. Stanley, also a hugely accomplished organist, matched Jones for imagination with a skilfully constructed solo that combined complex left hand chords with inventive right hand runs in a compelling mix. A word too for Flowers’ busy, often flamboyant, drumming which echoed something of Giles’ inventive and idiosyncratic style.

Next up was a standard, albeit one that represented a new tune for this particular quartet and one which had been debuted on this tour. Written by Kermit Goell and Fred Spielmann the song “You Won’t Forget Me” was the title track of a 1991 album by pianist / vocalist Shirley Horn which featured Miles Davis as a sideman on one of the trumpeter’s last ever recordings. Jones learnt it from another saxophonist,  the American Walt Weiskopf (born 1959) and the quartet’s version was based on Weiskopf’s recording. Here Jones stated the theme on tenor before handing over to Stanley for the first solo. Jones then followed him on tenor prior to a closing drum feature from Flowers. Interestingly tonight was essentially an all acoustic performance, with the necessary exception of Stanley’s keyboard, something that mirrored the previous Shrewsbury Jazz Network event at The Hive when the young saxophonist Alex Hitchcock had adopted a similar approach with his quintet.

Jones moved back to soprano for another original, “The Fifth Season”, a piece yet to be recorded but already earmarked for the quartet’s next album. This was a more reflective offering with the leader stating the theme before probing gently, but deeply on his solo. Stanley was similarly thoughtful and lyrical while Flowers’ impressed in something of a colourist’s role deploying a variety of brushes, sticks and mallets.

The first set concluded with a stunning, Coltrane inspired version of the classic jazz ballad “Body And Soul” with Jones & Co. digging deep into the architecture of the tune as they stretched out with lengthy and exploratory solos, Stanley going first on piano, followed by the impressive Vosloo on double bass and finally Jones on tenor.

If anything the second set was even better as the quartet placed the focus more unequivocally on original material The new Jones original “Accidents and Emergencies” was introduced by a lengthy passage of unaccompanied piano from Stanley. As the rest of the band joined in Jones stated the theme on soprano before handing over again to Stanley, the pianist soloing with a feverish inventiveness as Flowers drummed up a storm behind him. Jones’ own dazzling solo on soprano was sometimes reminiscent of the great Dave Liebman in full flight. A drum feature from the increasingly impressive Flowers followed before Jones headed for the skies once more. This was another tune scheduled for the next recording, on the evidence of tonight it’s an album that should be well worth waiting for.

“For Your Ears Only” includes “Solstice”, an impressive and atmospheric offering from the pen of Vosloo. Appropriately this was introduced by an extended passage of unaccompanied double bass that emphasised Vosloo’s dexterity, melodic sense and superior technique. This was a slow burner of a piece, the kind of abstract but evocative ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on an ECM recording. Jones was featured on tenor, his solo a model of controlled intensity as Flowers again fulfilled the colourist’s role, adding bare hands to the other tools of the drummer’s trade. Stanley’s piano solo combined thoughtfulness and lyricism with a sharper, flintier improvisatory edge before the piece resolved itself with a closing theme statement from Jones.

Also from the “For Your Ears..” album Jones’ “Marielyst” was inspired by the experience of walking on sea ice off the Danish coast. A lengthy piece with a strong sense of narrative, this was introduced by Flowers at the drums with an elegantly constructed feature. Jones then stated the theme on tenor before passing the baton to Stanley, who delivered a needling, gently probing solo that gradually developed in intensity, bolstered by Vosloo’s grounding bass grooves and Flowers’ increasingly energetic drumming. Jones then stretched out on tenor, gently exploratory at first but then becoming more forceful, his authoritative soloing fuelled by the muscular rhythms generated by Stanley, Vosloo and Flowers. Finally the music peaked before subsiding into a more freely structured closing passage with Vosloo’s bowed bass and the eerie piping of Jones’ tenor seeming to replicate the creaking of the ice.

Surprisingly this had been the poorest attendance at an SJN event in 2018, a combination of other events in the town (one jazz, one classical) plus the glorious summer weather conspiring to frustrate the organisers. Nevertheless a crowd numbering somewhere between forty and fifty and seated cabaret style had proved to be a great listening audience and responded to this superb original music with great enthusiasm.

Although the second set had only featured three tunes each had represented a lengthy excursion and the band were requested to play a ‘short encore’ due to the impending curfew at the venue. This proved to be a delightful ballad arrangement of Oscar Levant’s “Blame It On My Youth” featuring Flowers on brushed drums and with solos from Jones on tenor and Stanley at the piano. It was the perfect way to wind down after the intensity of the second set and concluded an evening of excellent music making overall.

I’ve always considered Jones to be something of a tenor specialist but I was hugely impressed with his playing on soprano in a superb all round performance that demonstrated his ability as both a saxophonist and as a composer / arranger. It’s always a treat to see Ross Stanley on either piano or organ and I was also highly impressed by both Vosloo and Flowers.

Those that stayed away missed something of a treat. Meanwhile the next album from this talented quartet, presumably with Giles back in the drum chair, will be keenly anticipated. My thanks to Ed Jones, Ross Stanley and Riaan Vosloo for speaking with me after the show and to SJN’s Hamish Kirkpatrick for the photograph that accompanies this review.


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