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Lee Jones - Swish Rating: 3 out of 5 A highly competent debut from this young guitarist

Talented young guitarist Lee Jones lives in Ludlow, Shropshire and is therefore a bit of a local hero as far as those of us here at the Jazzmann are concerned.

Having cut his teeth in the Shropshire Youth Jazz Ensemble he graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire’s renowned jazz course in 2007.

Although only in his twenties Jones has clearly listened to a lot of seventies style funk and fusion. He cites fellow guitarists John Schofield, George Benson and Larry Carlton as key influences. Much of “Swish” is in this vein albeit with a contemporary twist.

The album was recorded in Herefordshire with producer Simon Tittley at the helm. Jones calls on some of the best musicians in the border area for assistance including Pete Parkinson (Shropshire) on saxes and flutes, Ben Thomas (Hereford) on trumpet and Alex Steele (Cheltenham) on piano and keyboards. Acoustic bassist Zoltan Dekany and ex NYJO drummer Chris Dagley are nationally known and the guest list is completed by Frazer Snell and Mark Smith who share electric bass duties.

All the tunes are by Jones except for one outside item. The title track kicks things off in funky/fusion fashion with Thomas’s muted trumpet and Jones’ choppy lead lines. The retro feel is further emphasised by Steele’s synth solo and the programmed drums. It’s not a style of jazz I really listen to any more but on the whole I rather enjoyed this.

Laid back and more conventionally jazzy “Majik” has a winning tune, soulful sax from Parkinson, flowing piano from Steele and the seamless, beautifully articulated lines of the leader. Taken as a whole it’s really rather lovely.

“One Little Blue Note” by Phil Nicholl and Ehud Manor in an arrangement by Jones is the only outside tune. I’d like to think it’s a dedication to Leominster’s tiny Blue Note bar where many of these musicians have played. It’s a fine example of laid back, bluesy funk underpinned by Dagley’s crisp drumming which gives Jones the chance to stretch out, combining blues phrases with Pat Metheny style single note soloing.

“Cookin’ On Gas”, as the title might suggest is more overtly funky with some gutsy tenor playing from Parkinson, the kind of thing he likes to play with the highly entertaining Shropshire based funk/fusion outfit Chameleon. There’s also funky, clipped guitar from the leader who positions himself at the heart of all the arrangements.

Parkinson also features prominently on the more reflective “Retrospective”, sharing the limelight with the leader’s melodic and inventive guitar. For all the track’s languid qualities there is still an insidious funk undertow.

“Halfway House” introduces another instrumental voice with the appearance of Parkinson on flute on a lengthy fusion style workout that also features Steele on electric piano, plus Jones himself of course.

Jones and Parkinson take the honours again on the insistent funk of “Dorian Diversion”, both soloing to good effect before trading licks on the fadeout.

“Out Of The Day” is a pause for breath, an attractive ballad for solo guitar with Jones’ rich chording and distinctive bell like tone.
Finally comes a “jam mix” version of “Swish” that reprises, but does not significantly reinvent the opening title track.

“Swish” is highly competent début that features Jones playing in the style he obviously loves best. He has come up with an attractive selection of tunes and arranged them imaginatively placing himself at the heart of the proceedings. His soloing is melodic, funky and inventive and exhibits a bell like clarity. Besides his quoted influences there are also times when he reminds me of Swedish jazz/rock guitarist Janne Schaffer. However Jones has already cultivated a distinctive voice on his instrument and is, appropriately enough the star turn here with Parkinson also making a striking contribution.

My only criticism would be that much of the material is in the same vein and there is an over reliance on programmed drums. Subsequent releases should perhaps be looking at a greater variation of moods and dynamics.

Nevertheless a hugely encouraging début.

See http://www.leejones-guitarist.com for further information.

Swish

Lee Jones

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3 out of 5

Swish

A highly competent debut from this young guitarist

Talented young guitarist Lee Jones lives in Ludlow, Shropshire and is therefore a bit of a local hero as far as those of us here at the Jazzmann are concerned.

Having cut his teeth in the Shropshire Youth Jazz Ensemble he graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire’s renowned jazz course in 2007.

Although only in his twenties Jones has clearly listened to a lot of seventies style funk and fusion. He cites fellow guitarists John Schofield, George Benson and Larry Carlton as key influences. Much of “Swish” is in this vein albeit with a contemporary twist.

The album was recorded in Herefordshire with producer Simon Tittley at the helm. Jones calls on some of the best musicians in the border area for assistance including Pete Parkinson (Shropshire) on saxes and flutes, Ben Thomas (Hereford) on trumpet and Alex Steele (Cheltenham) on piano and keyboards. Acoustic bassist Zoltan Dekany and ex NYJO drummer Chris Dagley are nationally known and the guest list is completed by Frazer Snell and Mark Smith who share electric bass duties.

All the tunes are by Jones except for one outside item. The title track kicks things off in funky/fusion fashion with Thomas’s muted trumpet and Jones’ choppy lead lines. The retro feel is further emphasised by Steele’s synth solo and the programmed drums. It’s not a style of jazz I really listen to any more but on the whole I rather enjoyed this.

Laid back and more conventionally jazzy “Majik” has a winning tune, soulful sax from Parkinson, flowing piano from Steele and the seamless, beautifully articulated lines of the leader. Taken as a whole it’s really rather lovely.

“One Little Blue Note” by Phil Nicholl and Ehud Manor in an arrangement by Jones is the only outside tune. I’d like to think it’s a dedication to Leominster’s tiny Blue Note bar where many of these musicians have played. It’s a fine example of laid back, bluesy funk underpinned by Dagley’s crisp drumming which gives Jones the chance to stretch out, combining blues phrases with Pat Metheny style single note soloing.

“Cookin’ On Gas”, as the title might suggest is more overtly funky with some gutsy tenor playing from Parkinson, the kind of thing he likes to play with the highly entertaining Shropshire based funk/fusion outfit Chameleon. There’s also funky, clipped guitar from the leader who positions himself at the heart of all the arrangements.

Parkinson also features prominently on the more reflective “Retrospective”, sharing the limelight with the leader’s melodic and inventive guitar. For all the track’s languid qualities there is still an insidious funk undertow.

“Halfway House” introduces another instrumental voice with the appearance of Parkinson on flute on a lengthy fusion style workout that also features Steele on electric piano, plus Jones himself of course.

Jones and Parkinson take the honours again on the insistent funk of “Dorian Diversion”, both soloing to good effect before trading licks on the fadeout.

“Out Of The Day” is a pause for breath, an attractive ballad for solo guitar with Jones’ rich chording and distinctive bell like tone.
Finally comes a “jam mix” version of “Swish” that reprises, but does not significantly reinvent the opening title track.

“Swish” is highly competent début that features Jones playing in the style he obviously loves best. He has come up with an attractive selection of tunes and arranged them imaginatively placing himself at the heart of the proceedings. His soloing is melodic, funky and inventive and exhibits a bell like clarity. Besides his quoted influences there are also times when he reminds me of Swedish jazz/rock guitarist Janne Schaffer. However Jones has already cultivated a distinctive voice on his instrument and is, appropriately enough the star turn here with Parkinson also making a striking contribution.

My only criticism would be that much of the material is in the same vein and there is an over reliance on programmed drums. Subsequent releases should perhaps be looking at a greater variation of moods and dynamics.

Nevertheless a hugely encouraging début.

See http://www.leejones-guitarist.com for further information.


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