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Lee Jones - Songs From The 13th Hour Rating: 3-5 out of 5 Jones is a talented, innately tasteful guitarist and this album is a good showcase for his playing and composing talents.

Lee Jones

“Songs From The 13th Hour”

(13th Hour Records LAJ 2)

“Songs from The 13th Hour” represents the second self released album from the young British jazz guitarist Lee Jones from Ludlow, Shropshire. A graduate of the Jazz Course at Birmingham Conservatoire Jones released “Swish” (reviewed elsewhere on this site) in 2008, a début album that featured a mixture of local musicians and nationally known names including the late Chris Dagley.

Jones has gone for a similar mix of personnel again this time round. Ben Thomas (trumpet & flugelhorn), Andrew Shillingford (saxes) and Alex Steele (keyboards) are all respected players on the jazz scenes of the Midlands and the Welsh Borders. Other names to feature are Rab Handleigh (keyboards), Zoltan Dekany (double bass) and Troy Miller (drums), the latter certainly a player with a national reputation. Big name guest appearances come from Fairport Convention’s Ric Sanders on violin, Jean Toussaint on saxophone and most remarkably fellow guitarist Larry Coryell. The American guitar legend’s appearance on the track “Game On” came about through the miracles of file sharing as he and Jones appear on something of a “cyber guitar duet”. As before the album was recorded at engineer/producer Simon Tittley’s Herefordshire studio with Tittley also adding electric bass and programming to his other duties.

As Coryell’s presence might suggest the bulk of the material on “Songs From The 13th Hour” is in the same fusion vein as much of the music to be heard on Jones’ début. At that time the guitarist cited John Scofield, George Benson and particularly Larry Carlton as key inspirations and these three clearly remain as important influences on Jones’ playing.

The new album begins with the clipped funk of “The Spin” (could the title perhaps be a homage to fellow guitarist Pete Oxley’s Oxford jazz club?). Miller’s firm drumming and Shillingford’s lithe sax are the foils to Jones’ slippery lead guitar lines and choppy comping. Birmingham based Shillingford shows up particularly well with a fine solo to compliment Jones’ own. Tittley’s production adds a contemporary twist to the mainly retro sound.

“Feelin’ The Same Way” is even more defiantly retro in approach with Rhodes piano and synth the companions to Jones’ guitar. The breezy melody was written by bassist Lee Alexander for the voice of Norah Jones and Lee’s arrangement is skilfully crafted and very enjoyable. He’s the main soloist here, a familiar mix of jazz chording and nimble single note lines. There’s also an excellent solo on what sounds like an old analogue synthesiser but it’s not clear from the credits which of the two keyboard players is responsible for this.

“!3th Hour”, effectively the title track, features a guest appearance from Jean Toussaint who shares the soloing with Jones and one of the pianists on the ostinato like theme. Toussaint’s huge tone is   immediately striking but this is a strong performance all round on one of Jones’ most lyrical pieces.

Jones and Coryell didn’t meet personally but thanks to modern technology get to trade licks on “Game On”. Coryell, one of Jones’ musical heroes can be added to that list of influences mentioned earlier. There’s some impressively nimble guitar playing as one would expect but as this is essentially “music by correspondence” it’s all a bit too polite, nevertheless I can understand the thrill Jones got from playing with the great man, if only in cyberspace.

“In Another Time” is a ballad which features the warm tones of Jones guitar alongside the sound of Sander’s violin, the whole underpinned by Dekany’s firm acoustic bass. Sanders brings a previously unheard folk element to Jones’ music.

However it’s back business as usual with the chilled funk of “Behind The Scenes” which features the coolly elegant trumpet and flugel of Ben Thomas. Elsewhere seventies style synths rub shoulders with Tittley’s more contemporary production methods as Jones switches seamlessly between rhythm and lead. The same instrumental configuration also appears on the following “Iconic” with the skittering drum grooves giving the tune a more obvious contemporary edge.

“Western Escape” lopes along with Jones’ clean, crisp guitar sharing the front-line with Shillingford’s sax. Shillingford also shines on the following “Guess Who”, perhaps the most conventionally “jazz” track on what is essentially a fusion record. There’s a superb, jazzy solo from Jones too, full of the agile jazz chording and elegant single note runs I mentioned earlier.

The closing “Silhouette” is an impressive multi tracked guitar piece that owes an obvious debt to the methods of Pat Metheny but is no less satisfying for that.

“Songs From The 13th Hour” is a definite progression from the earlier “Swish”. Jones’ writing has matured and although his obvious love of funk and fusion shows through there is more of a conscious effort to achieve a variation of styles and moods. The arrangements and production have been stitched together with loving care and the presence of Troy Miller at the drums is a huge plus. “Swish” was over reliant on programmed beats but Miller brings a more organic feel to this latest project with his firm, deft drumming. Jones himself is a talented , innately tasteful guitarist and this album is a good showcase for his playing and composing talents. It’s perhaps still a little too derivative but this is clearly a style of music that Jones loves and there is much here to enjoy. I normally get to see him playing standards at local gigs but it would be nice if he could get some of this line up together to perform this music live. 

Songs From The 13th Hour

Lee Jones

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Album Review

3-5 out of 5

Songs From The 13th Hour

Jones is a talented, innately tasteful guitarist and this album is a good showcase for his playing and composing talents.

Lee Jones

“Songs From The 13th Hour”

(13th Hour Records LAJ 2)

“Songs from The 13th Hour” represents the second self released album from the young British jazz guitarist Lee Jones from Ludlow, Shropshire. A graduate of the Jazz Course at Birmingham Conservatoire Jones released “Swish” (reviewed elsewhere on this site) in 2008, a début album that featured a mixture of local musicians and nationally known names including the late Chris Dagley.

Jones has gone for a similar mix of personnel again this time round. Ben Thomas (trumpet & flugelhorn), Andrew Shillingford (saxes) and Alex Steele (keyboards) are all respected players on the jazz scenes of the Midlands and the Welsh Borders. Other names to feature are Rab Handleigh (keyboards), Zoltan Dekany (double bass) and Troy Miller (drums), the latter certainly a player with a national reputation. Big name guest appearances come from Fairport Convention’s Ric Sanders on violin, Jean Toussaint on saxophone and most remarkably fellow guitarist Larry Coryell. The American guitar legend’s appearance on the track “Game On” came about through the miracles of file sharing as he and Jones appear on something of a “cyber guitar duet”. As before the album was recorded at engineer/producer Simon Tittley’s Herefordshire studio with Tittley also adding electric bass and programming to his other duties.

As Coryell’s presence might suggest the bulk of the material on “Songs From The 13th Hour” is in the same fusion vein as much of the music to be heard on Jones’ début. At that time the guitarist cited John Scofield, George Benson and particularly Larry Carlton as key inspirations and these three clearly remain as important influences on Jones’ playing.

The new album begins with the clipped funk of “The Spin” (could the title perhaps be a homage to fellow guitarist Pete Oxley’s Oxford jazz club?). Miller’s firm drumming and Shillingford’s lithe sax are the foils to Jones’ slippery lead guitar lines and choppy comping. Birmingham based Shillingford shows up particularly well with a fine solo to compliment Jones’ own. Tittley’s production adds a contemporary twist to the mainly retro sound.

“Feelin’ The Same Way” is even more defiantly retro in approach with Rhodes piano and synth the companions to Jones’ guitar. The breezy melody was written by bassist Lee Alexander for the voice of Norah Jones and Lee’s arrangement is skilfully crafted and very enjoyable. He’s the main soloist here, a familiar mix of jazz chording and nimble single note lines. There’s also an excellent solo on what sounds like an old analogue synthesiser but it’s not clear from the credits which of the two keyboard players is responsible for this.

“!3th Hour”, effectively the title track, features a guest appearance from Jean Toussaint who shares the soloing with Jones and one of the pianists on the ostinato like theme. Toussaint’s huge tone is   immediately striking but this is a strong performance all round on one of Jones’ most lyrical pieces.

Jones and Coryell didn’t meet personally but thanks to modern technology get to trade licks on “Game On”. Coryell, one of Jones’ musical heroes can be added to that list of influences mentioned earlier. There’s some impressively nimble guitar playing as one would expect but as this is essentially “music by correspondence” it’s all a bit too polite, nevertheless I can understand the thrill Jones got from playing with the great man, if only in cyberspace.

“In Another Time” is a ballad which features the warm tones of Jones guitar alongside the sound of Sander’s violin, the whole underpinned by Dekany’s firm acoustic bass. Sanders brings a previously unheard folk element to Jones’ music.

However it’s back business as usual with the chilled funk of “Behind The Scenes” which features the coolly elegant trumpet and flugel of Ben Thomas. Elsewhere seventies style synths rub shoulders with Tittley’s more contemporary production methods as Jones switches seamlessly between rhythm and lead. The same instrumental configuration also appears on the following “Iconic” with the skittering drum grooves giving the tune a more obvious contemporary edge.

“Western Escape” lopes along with Jones’ clean, crisp guitar sharing the front-line with Shillingford’s sax. Shillingford also shines on the following “Guess Who”, perhaps the most conventionally “jazz” track on what is essentially a fusion record. There’s a superb, jazzy solo from Jones too, full of the agile jazz chording and elegant single note runs I mentioned earlier.

The closing “Silhouette” is an impressive multi tracked guitar piece that owes an obvious debt to the methods of Pat Metheny but is no less satisfying for that.

“Songs From The 13th Hour” is a definite progression from the earlier “Swish”. Jones’ writing has matured and although his obvious love of funk and fusion shows through there is more of a conscious effort to achieve a variation of styles and moods. The arrangements and production have been stitched together with loving care and the presence of Troy Miller at the drums is a huge plus. “Swish” was over reliant on programmed beats but Miller brings a more organic feel to this latest project with his firm, deft drumming. Jones himself is a talented , innately tasteful guitarist and this album is a good showcase for his playing and composing talents. It’s perhaps still a little too derivative but this is clearly a style of music that Jones loves and there is much here to enjoy. I normally get to see him playing standards at local gigs but it would be nice if he could get some of this line up together to perform this music live. 


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