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Gemini by Sean Jones

But 27 years old, Sean Jones is burning. He plays the music of Gemini with a flare that is reminiscent of the hard bop trumpet masters like Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw or Clifford Brown, even as he is emerging with his own notions about the progress of jazz. Charging out of the gate on "Gemini (Phase 1)" (a reference to his birth sign that he shares with Miles Davis), Jones fairly astounds the listener with aggressive variations on his own "Gemini" theme, darting, swerving, bending notes, buzzing and finally fading out.

Fully aware of two camps of trumpet players pre-Miles Davis fusion and post-Miles Davis fusion Jones almost splits the CD in two, as represented by keyboardist Orrin Evans’ "Gemini (Phase 2)," written in 15/4. Indeed, the dual nature of the CD is consistent with the doubling of images within Gemini, symbolized by the twins. The first part of Gemini consists of acoustical work, from the polyrhythmic Latin groove of Quamon Fowler’s "Mission Statement" to the subdued, reverent and gorgeous approach to a three-four ballad on "BJ’s Tune (Life In The Hand, Divine)," an expression of Jones’ feelings when he learned that his nephew, Benjamin Jacob, was born while Jones was on the road with Harry Connick, Jr.

After "Gemini (Phase 2)," though, Jones shows his other side, one influenced by Davis, Weather Report, Chick Corea and Steve Coleman. On "Into The Sun," flavored by Evans’ electric keyboard work and Kenny Davis’ prodding electric bass lines, Jones nonetheless remains consistent with concise, clearly articulated lines belying he relative youth, only a few years after matriculating Youngstown State University and Rutgers University and a single year after releasing his first album, Eternal Journey. In interviews, Jones offers mature insights that could be adopted by musicians twice his age: "I’ve had to work on speaking to the audience and having a good stage presence. It’s also important to converse with the audience after performances, know how to do interviews and speak clearly. I’ve had to learn that people not only hear you, they see you as well."

"Chillin’ At Da Grill," featuring the same electric feel as the other tracks after "Gemini (Phase 2)," comes across as a showcase for Jones’ sensitivity in developing solos that reach out to audiences, as he squeezes out notes and tells the story of Crawford Grill in Pittsburgh, the namesake for the song. With punch and understated harmonic changes, the song brings out the best in not only Jones, but also tenor saxophonist Ron Blake, who offers an urgent, soulful solo. "Momma’s Groove" allows Davis to loop and prod with reverberating bass lines as Jones and alto saxophonist Tia Fuller romp through the piece as Evans lays down whole-note chords for color and texture.

Gemini concludes with even more Gemini references, the second-to-last track (obviously entitled "Gemini") being a devoted reference to Miles Davis’ later albums with Marcus Miller, Kenny Davis’ bass the instrument most prominent on the recording as Jones, muted, recalls the swelling and minimized statements of Davis in his last phase. And then "Gemini (Phase 3)" ends the album with a gospel feel made evident by Mulgrew Miller’s dramatic chords, the brief religious statement consistent with Jones’ belief in the role of the musician as the channel for spiritual emotions.

Gemini confirms, after Eternal Journey startled listeners into acute awareness of his abilities, that Sean Jones not only is mature beyond his years as he develops wise concepts for his albums, but also that his talent is such that he within a short period of time has joined the ranks of the current jazz scene’s top trumpeters.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sean Jones
  • CD Title: Gemini
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Mack Avenue Records
  • Tracks: Gemini (Phase 1), In Her Honor, Rain Of Patience, Blues For Matt B, BJ’s Tune (Life In The Hand, Divine), Mission Statement, Gemini (Phase 2), Into The Sun, Chillin’ At Da Grill, T.V. Land, Momma’s Groove, Gemini, Gemini (Phase 3)
  • Musicians: Sean Jones (trumpet); Ron Blake, Walter Smith III (tenor saxophone); Tia Fuller (alto saxophone, flute); Andre Hayward (trombone); Mulgrew Miller (piano); Orrin Evans (keyboards); Kenny Davis (bass); E.J. Strickland, Corey Rawls (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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