Sean Jones certainly must be considered alongside Jeremy Pelt, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, and Roy Hargrove as a top-drawer modern jazz trumpet player, and this album firmly solidifies that notion.
For his fifth recording on the Mack Avenue label, trumpeter Sean Jones has really stepped up his game as a composer of contemporary jazz music. He's raised the stakes by writing music that still reflects his love for hard bop, but has intensified it with a more intricate and involved thought process that speaks to his coming of age and maturity. This is exciting music more reliant on teamwork merging with a bigger sound than his previous recordings. While Jones is not completely removed from the proceedings as if a sideman, it's clear he has the intention to blend in more with his bandmates, and attain the type of unified whole found in the best work of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Woody Shaw, or Wynton Marsalis. Pianist Orrin Evans is a very positive force on driving the music ahead, while newcomer saxophonists Brian Hogans and Walter Smith sound like they know their roles well, and are not egocentric to the point of bold upstaging -- they all fit quite well together. Whether Jones will ever be the second coming of Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard is to be determined, but he's sure working hard to live up to their estimable reputations. "Transitions" represents this hard blowing, unabashed approach, a terrific, quick and hip tune that tackles the 7/8 time signature in a near wild mindset. A popping Latin rhythm behind singing sounds from the three horns on "The Storm" leads to their best interplay in counterpoint and vocal-like chatter. The funky soulful tune "Sunday Reflections" repeats the instrumental as voice extension concept in a mix of contemporary and traditional hard bop stance in the finest Blue Note records tradition. Evans steps up filling space everywhere he can with bright tones on the other hard bopper "Sean's Jones Comes Down," featuring the trumpeter's best solo. On the retro CTI side, a bouncy "Summer's Spring" has Evans on the Fender Rhodes as Jones teams with flutist Erika Von Kleist, a 6/8 samba beat and the harmonica of guest Gregoire Maret identifies the soaring harmony of "The Ambitious Violet," and vocalist Carolyn Perteete returns from previous efforts with Jones to sing her obligatory number "Letter of Resignation," a beautiful song with the triple entendre tale of true love and fate, evoking being regretfully resigned, resigning as in quitting and re-signing on again with romance. The sweet and languid moments in ballad form, and even the three- to two-minute "The Search Within" prelude, interludes, postlude (and fully rendered hidden title track) are compelling as bridges, implying the lengthy internal search that Jones embarked upon has yielded wondrous, revelatory results. Sean Jones certainly must be considered alongside Jeremy Pelt, Terence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, and Roy Hargrove as a top-drawer modern jazz trumpet player, and this album firmly solidifies that notion. --All Music Guide The Search Within
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