Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - Troy Collins
Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) is the third release from Darius Jones to document his impressive musical growth as a bandleader. Beyond his salient contributions to groups such as Little Women, Mike Pride's From Bacteria to Boys and Tanakh, Jones' 2009 AUM Fidelity debut, Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) , established the young alto saxophonist as a force with which to be reckoned - a singular talent capable of holding his own in the company of acknowledged masters like multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and iconic drummer Rakalam Bob Moses. Two years later, Big Gurl (Smell My Dream) followed, which presented Jones in a more conventional setting accompanied by his peers, bassist Adam Lane and drummer Jason Nazary. Book of Mæ'bul expands upon the terrain covered in his sophomore trio date, with pianist Matt Mitchell, bassist Trevor Dunnand drummer Ches Smith filling out the ranks.
Mitchell proves to be an especially apt foil for Jones, whose singular flair for extrapolating unusually ardent resolutions from conventionally memorable themes is bolstered by the pianist's keen ear for improvising decorative flourishes that enrich the melodic character of Jones' captivating writing. Buttressing this traditional pairing with their mercurial interplay, Dunn and Smith reveal a deep-seated rapport, one honed in Downtown ensembles generally far more esoteric in their instrumentation and approach than proffered by this quartet, including Dunn's own Trio Convulsant, Mary Halvorson's trio and quintet, and Secret Chiefs 3. ... read more...
Personnel: Darius Jones (alto saxophone); Matt Mitchell (piano); Ches Smith (drums).
Audio Mixer: Michael Marciano.
Recording information: Systems Two Studio, Brooklyn (09/07/2011).
Given the depth, breadth, and sheer taste on Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), saxophonist Darius Jones has come a long way as both a bandleader and a composer in a relatively short time. One needn't go far into the album to discover this, either. Check pianist Matt Mitchell's sustained, spacious notes and initial chords that open the album on "The Enjoii Moon" before Jones, bassist Trevor Dunn (on upright), and drummer Ches Smith enter the frame. Their resonance sets up a simple, lovely, and lyrical head that articulates itself as an open-ended ballad before the band moves to harmonically stretch things -- but never too far. They work each element of those opening notes and lyric statements from every angle, bringing solos by Mitchell and Jones round the inside of that melody -- even when they briefly appear to leave it entirely. This tune acts as a statement of purpose on the album. Most of these head melodies are quite simple, there is none of the academic knottiness that is so prevalent in both post-bop and avant-garde jazz these days. Jones uses an economy of language to showcase the ensemble's keen interplay and intuitive connectivity even as they extend formulaic concerns to someplace near the breaking point -- such as on "The Fagley Blues" and "My Baby." The ability to remain within the frame is no easy task with such a talented and normally ebullient group of improvisers, but Jones' tunes allow for a maximum in both creative and communicative terms. Even when things move toward skronk in Jones' own playing, as they do on the otherwise post-bop "Winkie," he holds his own inner line. His economy of tone and intervallic exploration without sacrificing emotive expression is akin to Wayne Shorter's. On the nearly straight-ahead ballad "So Sad," one can also hear the influence of the great soul-jazz tenor men. Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) is the new high-water mark for Jones' leadership ventures in the future; it stands as a giant step forward in his catalog. ~ Thom Jurek
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