Celebrating his 10th anniversary with Mack Avenue Records, internationally acclaimed composer/trumpeter Sean Jones views his seventh album, im.pro.vise never before seen, as “a reintroduction of who I am.” Although he has clearly established himself as a formidable leader through recordings and live performances, this album reflects his “conscious decision to approach this latest step in my artistic evolution as a trumpet player, a composer and a leader.”
A major event in that evolution occurred when he chose to step down from his longtime position as Lead Trumpeter of the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2010. But touring with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock’s Tribute To Miles the following year made a truly profound impact on his personal journey. “I have so much respect for those men, so I asked them how I could best contribute to this music. Without hesitation and in one voice they said: ‘Lead. That’s what we hired you to do.’ That brought it all together for me.”
Through that epiphany, Jones set out with a new motivation firmly in place, and im.pro.vise never before seen began to take form. Paring his artistic viewpoint down to the basics, he decided to make his first quartet recording with his longtime bandmates, the dynamic pianist Orrin Evans, and the seamless bass/drum tandem of Luques Curtis and Obed Calvaire. Furthermore, he chose to do it old school.
“All of my previous albums were ‘productions’ with overdubs, etc,” says Jones. “This time it was just the four of us in one room, no barriers between us, playing live.” The sense of immediacy and urgency that has always been a key element of the jazz art at its highest level is front and center throughout this entire album. Another essential tradition of looking back to look forward is also omnipresent here, and that includes the full scope of that legacy from its blues roots to its freer explorations.
Powerfully committed to his art and clearly focused upon where he wants to take it, Jones has developed one of the most impressive and compelling ensembles on today’s scene, all of whom are committed to performing together and taking their place alongside the most affecting and important ensembles in jazz.
Together this quartet generates the consummate energy to which all truly dedicated jazz artists should aspire. The musicians bring everything they have to the table, making the music their own, yet always understanding that the purpose is to fulfill the vision of the leader. “I want to reflect the tradition of what jazz is,” says Jones, “and my voice is a voice that needs to be part of it.”