Reviews: Sean Jones' latest is top-notch work
Sean Jones Quartet (Mack Avenue)
Trumpeter Sean Jones moves into the neighborhood of the legendary with “Im·Pro·Vise.” Playing in his ever-improving quartet setting, Jones has put together an album that is mindful of that of the famous Miles Davis quartets of the mid-'60s. This album is a display of jazz at a peak level. The songs are well-conceived and presented. The technical work of the musicians is top-notch. The cohesion of the group is remarkable on mid-tempo tunes such as “60th and Broadway” of “Don't Fall off the L.E.J.”, on the quick-cooking “Dr. Jekyll” or on the “I Don't Give a Damn Blues,” which has a title that defines its nature. But easily the best piece is Stephen Sondheim's “Not While I'm Around,” which Jones plays with remarkable taste. The quartet includes drummer Obed Calvaire, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Orrin Evans, all of whom, like Jones, are carving out starring spots in jazz. Besides playing with his usual mastery and great musical grasp, Jones also wrote eight of the 11 songs on the album. Coming out so near Jones's imminent departure for Boston, this album has a touch of the bittersweet to it for area jazz fans. But let's hope the trumpeter returns as often as he expects to.
Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart (Pirouet)
Keyboardist Larry Goldings turns to the Hammond organ on this “Ramshackle Serenade” but not in the usual way. That originality is the album's strength. Rather than approaching the Hammond in the funky manner of Jimmy Smith or Groove Holmes, Goldings takes a more restrained approach. The result gives the organist and his two compatriots freedom in laid-back setting. Besides Goldings, the album also features drummer Bill Stewart and guitarist Peter Bernstein. It features nine pieces, with three covers and six originals by members of the trio. Most are easy-going like Bernstein's “Simple as That” and Goldings' title track, but even when the mood is a little more forceful, such as on “Mr. Meagles,” (cq) the output is in control. Each of the players contributes solid work on each piece either as a soloist or in backup roles. Stewart stands out steadily, particularly with his strong cymbal work. These three have worked together in many settings and this one suits them well.
Chicago has been much in evidence lately. They collaborated with Robin Thicke on January's Grammy telecast. They appeared in Larry David's outrageous HBO flick “Clear History” (in which every girlfriend of David's character had relations with several band members). At the very least, the brassy R&B-jazz outfit has finally outrun the ghost of the '80s power-ballad sound foisted on it by the legendarily lame Peter Cetera. On “Now: XXXVI,” co-founders Robert Lamm, James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, Lee Loughnane and some newer Chicagoans sound closer to their rough roots than they have since their first albums. The CD's arrangements may not be quite as raunchy or contagious as “25 or 6 to 4,” but cuts like “Free at Last” come close in punch and gruffness, with a nod to Chicago's psychedelic start on “Another Trippy Day.” While maintaining its robust brass sound (those trombones!), Chicago hasn't forgotten the luster of its harmony vocals (“This Is the Time” could be disco-era Bee Gees) or the rich romanticism of a good slow song. The first 10 Chicago albums set the gold standard for blue-eyed, big-band rock-and-soul. “Now” sounds like Chicago wants that feeling back.
Old Crow Medicine Show (ATO)
“We're talking happiness here,” banjo wiz Critter Fuqua says as an aside a few minutes into “Remedy,” which neatly sums up the latest album from Old Crow Medicine Show. Lickety-split tempos and kitchen-sink arrangements make for a set that's foot-stomping, thigh-slapping and grin-inducing. The string band's wide range of influences ensures variety. “Brave Boys” recalls the Pogues, “Doc's Day” is hillbilly blues, and a composing collaboration with Bob Dylan results in “Sweet Amarillo,” which would fit on “The Basement Tapes.” All are terrific, as are songs about a fallen vet, hating on haters and a certain creek one goes up without a paddle. The hilarious “Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer” is a celebration of liberation, while “The Warden” offers a darker perspective on prison in lovely five-part harmony. Five-part is nothing — all seven band members sing on a couple of tunes, and the result is a glorious chorus. In fact, from start to finish, “Remedy” creates a mighty roar.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keystone Division Band to perform at Greensburg’s Palace Theatre
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Music for the Spirit comes to CMU
- Train’s push for ‘Bulletproof Picasso’ picks up steam
- Jamestown comedy center to entertain, teach
- Drummer Zeigler returns to Monaca to play with band The Forty Nineteens
- Douglas’ ‘High Risk’ is high-reward look at jazz