Sean Jones – Live from Jazz at the Bistro
(Mack Avenue MAC1111. CD Review by Peter Jones)
Cool and restrained, that’s the default style of modern trumpet maestro Sean Jones, whose playing is reminiscent of Roy Hargrove’s. This live album is his eighth, recorded over three nights in December 2015 at a St Louis club which looks a little like London’s Jazz Café, judging by the pictures on its website.
I’ve been keeping an eye out for Jones since his fine 2007 collection Kaleidoscope and its follow-up The Search Within. Many of his long-term collaborators reappear on this new album – notably pianist Orrin Evans, bass man Luques Curtis, drummer Obed Calvaire and alto/soprano saxophonist Brian Hogans. But there’s no room this time for vocals – a bit of a shame, since he has worked previously with the luminous Gretchen Parlato, and Carolyn Perteete, whose wistful vocal on Letter of Resignation (here on YouTube) first drew my attention to Jones as a writer of subtlety and intelligence.
The partnership with Evans seems to be an important one: Evans can fade into the background or leap suddenly into the spotlight, as on his own composition, the casually strolling Doc’s Holiday, with its charming little midway stumble, as if the Doc has had a drink or two during his vacation. Or Lost, Then Found, on which his two-chord vamp slots in so perfectly with Jones and Hogans’s simple harmonized lines.
Characteristically thoughtful and reflective, Sean Jones can also bebop with the best of them, as on Brian Hogans’s Piscean Dichotomy or his own Prof. On The Ungentrified Blues, Jones’s trumpet brilliantly emulates the hollerin’ blues vocal – raspin’ one minute, pleadin’ and moanin’ the next.
So it’s a varied set, topped off by BJ’s Tune, a ballad which builds into something rowdier before subsiding into a solo trumpet rendition of Amazing Grace.