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Rodney Jones: Articulation

Album Notes

Rodney Jones was only 22 when, in 1978, he recorded Articulation, his first album as a leader. At the time, the guitarist was in Dizzy Gillespie's employ, and he was capable of playing both fusion and straight-ahead jazz. Jones favors acoustic-oriented post-bop on this self-produced effort, which Timeless reissued on CD in 1991. Although it falls short of exceptional, Articulation is definitely solid. The tunes (all of which are by either Jones or bassist Bruce Johnson) are worthwhile, and no one would accuse any of the musicians of not having chops (even if some of them still had some growing and developing to do in the late '70s). The participants range from alto sax great Arthur Blythe to up-and-coming players such as tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, acoustic pianist Kenny Kirkland, and trumpeter Wallace Roney. In 1978, Mintzer, Kirkland, and the Miles Davis-minded Roney had yet to become major names in the jazz world; but in the 1980s and 1990s, all of them were quite visible. Blythe's passionate solos are a definite asset -- in 1978, he was the session's best-known player. Nonetheless, Jones is the man in the driver's seat, and one hears his potential on tracks that range from the hard-swinging "Blues for Wes" (which acknowledges fellow guitarist Wes Montgomery) and the driving "1978" to the mysterious "Nereda." The latter employs wordless background vocals by singer Bemshi Jones, who remains in the background. Articulation is very much an instrumental album, and it paints a likable picture of Jones at 22. ~ Alex Henderson


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