Arthur Jones

Arthur Jones (b. Arthur Jones (b. 1940 in Cleveland, USA; d. 1998 New York City City, USA) is an American Free Jazz alto jazz saxophonist best known for his warm and energetic tones. Jones began his career in a Rock and Roll group. After hearing Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman’s music, Jones began to play in a Rock and Roll band. He also played in Frank Wright’s group, where he recorded the Your Prayer (1967). He also worked with Jacques Coursil. He was part of Sunny Murray’s Acoustical Swing Unit in 1968. In 1969, he traveled to Paris with the unit. There he recorded two albums of Africanasia with the Art Ensemble of Chicago. He also recorded many other recordings for BYGActuel with Coursil and Archie Shepp as well as Sunny Murray and Burton Greene. Wikipedia: Arthur Jones is one the most forgotten men in free jazz. He was an alto saxophonist from Cleveland who made his mark during 1969’s Parisian summer. This was when many free jazz musicians (and others) traveled to France to record and play gigs with the new label BYG/Actuel. He was featured on many other albums, including Echo by Dave Burrell, Jacques Coursil, Frank Wright’s Your Prayer for ESP-Disk, Sunny Murray’s Sunshine and Homage to Africa and Ketchaoua by Clifford Thornton, Archie Shepps Yasmina and A Black Woman and Aquariana by Burton Greene. He only recorded two albums under his own name. One of those albums featured him sharing billing with drummer Claude Delcloo. Wikipedia states that he died in 1998. Scorpio is a four track album. It opens with the energetic “C.R.M.”. The rhythm section, which includes drummer Delcloo and bassist Beb Guerin, interacts in a way that recalls Sunny Murray and Gary Peacock on Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity five years ago. Guerin pulls so hard at the bass strings that they appear to be at risk of being unwound or falling off the neck. Delcloo uses cymbals and hi-hats mostly, but rarely touches the snare drum. This track, as well as the next, “B.T.,” Jones’ tone and phrasing recall Ornette Coleman. However, he is more inclined to use a deep, bluesy honk towards the bottom of the alto range than Coleman. At the height of his solos, Jones lets his lines run longer and gets more repetitive than what Texan would do in a comparable situation. Jones is less concerned about melody and more focused on maintaining an eruption-like feeling. Delcloo plays a solo drum on “B.T.” which is quite energetic, in a Max Roach style with lots of toms. The second side of the album features two ballads: “Sad Eyes”, and “Brother B.” It’s a kind of free jazz equivalent to Dexter Gordon’s Dexter Blows Cool and Hot. Jones’ “Sad Eyes” is quite raw. He sounds at times like he’s crying over the death of a loved one before regaining control and blowing bluesy notes that wind up toward the end of the piece in an Ornette-circa-1960 style. Guerin’s solo on bass is also worth noting. The album’s last track, “Brother B,” may be its most intriguing. It starts slow and melancholy, before Delcloo sets a march tempo on the drums. Things become more incantatory as Jones returns to a fanfare-like phrase, and alternates it with a scrabbling and screeching line that sounds like Ayler trying to imitate Ornette. This is no surprise as it was chosen to represent Scorpio in the amazing 3CD JazzActuel box that was released a decade ago. ago. Although it is co-billed with Jones and Delcloo for sax-drums, Africanasia is not a duo album. It’s actually more of an Art Ensemble of Chicago unofficial record. Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favors all feature (the former two playing flutes and the latter playing a log drum). These two tracks, which are long and gentle, are actually much more subtle than one might think. A simple melody of flutes is played over and over again, and then Jones delicately expands upon it. Jones leads the rhythm section, which also includes Clifford Thornton (conga) and Earl Freeman (gongs, bells, and other percussion). It never explodes into loud, free-flowing blowing. None of the other saxophonists (other than Mitchell and Jarman, Kenneth Terroade also plays flute) ever picks a man-sized instrument to challenge Jones. His style is calm and even romantic. He rarely indulges in the hard-bitten shrieks that were once the dominant saxophone language. His lines are long, limber and more like Charlie Parker than Jimmy Lyons or Ornette. His horn seems to let the notes slide rather than leap out of it. He takes a solo unaccompanied at the 11-minute mark in the second track. It’s simply beautiful. The rhythm section and flutes return in and he murmurs more introspective phrases, over the steady beat of the band, until it all ends. These albums are not available on CD. JazzActuel can be purchased from Amazon’s MP3 shop (each disc must be purchased separately) and Africanasia. Both are highly recommended. from

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