A powerful work of music came out this month. Powerful in the physical prowess and dexterous technique of trumpeter and band leader Sean Jones. Powerful in the inspiration and message. But most powerful finally in the confidence, clarity and purpose in Jones as a musical artist in his latest album “No Need For Words.”
I hope Jones will forgive me for using words to describe what he has so eloquently communicated in melody, rhythm, tone, mood and composition. To listen to this CD is to hear, understand and feel what we begin to experience from the moment we’re born. Jones calls it love. I call it life. It’s all full of ache and thrill, rapture and despair, confusion and peace, need and comfort in the different loves that make up our lives. Every song on this CD tells a story that most of us have lived but without a forced heaviness and, of course, without words.
Jones, who just turned 33, comes into his own with this release, which is a long way from his solid but safe debut album, “Eternal Journey,” in 2004. With his classical training and musician credentials such as playing lead trumpet in Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for five years and touring with bass extraordinaire Marcus Miller, there is no doubt about Jones’ musical talents. He has range. He has control. He has bop speed. He can hit a note clear as glass and hold it beyond time. But now he has style and something to say.
Last year, he stepped down from Lincoln Center and currently teaches at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh while obviously still composing, recording and touring.
“No Need For Words” is Jones’ sixth album, all on Mack Avenue Records. This one should put Jones over the top from being previously awarded Downbeat Magazine’s Rising Star title to full-fledged contemporary jazz luminary.
Jones writes on his website that while exploring his own life, he has come across many kinds of love that have given voice to his latest work. The track “Momma” blends gospel piano chords and a soaring trumpet line to share the tender, nurturing love from his mother. Listening to that song actually made me think of moments with my own children — waiting for an X-ray result with false calm, wiping away tears for countless reasons, holding a hand just because. Jones writes in his bio that he wants to give his mother flowers while she’s still alive. The bloom in this song will last even longer.
While this album of love songs is not in the conventional definition, Jones cannot ignore the dance between lovers that goes from flirtation as heard in the bouncy “Olive Juice” to the complications in “Touch and Go.” Then there is the title track, “No Need For Words.” There is nothing more sultry, more seductive, more languishing than the slow breathy tones of Jones’ muted horn. There truly is no need for words to describe this intimate moment or Jones’ masterful command of sensual tones.
In direct opposition, Jones and guitarist Matt Stevens let go a discordant growl of primal hurt in “Love’s Fury.” Musical phrases rip through with furious disharmony. You can hear mocking and arguing between the saxophone and trumpet. You can hear nagging repetition in the piano. After the assault on the ears, the song comes to an abrupt stop and goes right into the final track.
This one is my favorite. With a melody line and Jones’ clear delivery, the song is the story of a different parental relationship that Jones experienced. It is one with his father and takes time and maturity to find. Again, you hear the gospel influence of Jones’ childhood. The song, titled “Forgiveness” and subtitled “Release,” brings Jones to terms with his father after a lifetime of resentment. You can hear the angst and anger being released on Brian Hogans’ saxophone and Jones’ trumpet. You can hear the relief and acceptance on Corey Henry’s organ. You can hear two souls make their peace without knowing their history. The details are unimportant. If you can get to this sound in your life, you reach the highest kind of love. “No Need For Words” will speak for itself and you will hear your own stories in Jones’ music.
Emily Tuttle is a freelance writer living in Minot. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.