Sean Jones – Im pro vise – Mack Avenue 1080, 70:03 *****:
(Sean Jones – trumpet; Orrin Evans – piano; Luques Curtis – bass; Obed Calvaire – drums)
Having just returned from the Detroit Jazz Festival, where trumpeter Sean Jones was the standout performer, I was stoked to be able to review his latest CD release, Im pro vise. It’s his seventh disc as a leader and primes the pump for his rapid ascendance into the upper echelon of today’s performing jazz trumpeters. As the former lead trumpeter of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Sean would get prime solos but his talents were still somewhat sheltered from the full exposure a quartet recording would bring.
As well as an active touring schedule, Jones has found time to chair the brass department of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, after having taught at both Duquesne University and the Oberlin Conservatory. He still serves as Artistic Director of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra as well as the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra.
At the just completed Detroit Jazz Festival, Sean was everywhere, both leading his quartet and joining other group’s ensemble presentations, his late night performance at an after hours jazz session at the festival’s sponsoring hotel, was especially memorable for his command of his instrument and his raw power and escalating solos. At age 35 he is at the peak of his powers and brings to mind Freddie Hubbard for his range and even Clifford Brown for his presentation and lyricism.
Leading a quartet on Im pro vise, Sean is front and center as leader with no competing horns. It’s his project to display his talents. On the opener, “60th and Broadway” Sean handles the mid-tempo arrangement with ease. Drummer Calvaire pushes the group, and ace pianist Evans is more than an able accompanist. “Dark Times” is a languid ballad with a theme that brings to mind Terence Blanchard’s Katrina-themed CD of several years ago. “Interior Motive” percolates with burnished trumpet blending with Calvaire’s percussive drumming and Evans’ swirling piano lines. “The Morning After” is a sumptuous ballad that is “comfort food” for the soul. “I Don’t Give a Damn Blues” has a title that is a perfectly adequate description. Think late night New Orleans…
“Dr Jekyll” is a nice feature for Luques Curtis as his double-time plucking keeps up with Jones’ rapid fire trumpet runs. “How High the Moon” gets a gentle reading and “We’ll Meet Under the Stars” has the class and warmth to be a standard for future trumpeters. “Don’t Fall Off the L.E.J.” from the pen of Orrin Evans has a memorable main theme that sticks with you long after the tune concludes. The CD concludes with Stephen Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around” and once again Jones is pitch perfect and his tone and timbre as warm as honey.
Im pro vise delivers the goods! It is certain to please mainstream jazz trumpet fans. There are no filler tracks on this superb release.
TrackList: 60th and Broadway, Dark Times, Interior Motive, The Morning After, I Don’t Give a Damn Blues, Dr Jekyll, How High the Moon, We’ll Meet Under the Stars, New Journey, Don’t Fall Off the L.E.J., Not While I’m Around
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