Sean Jones

Eternal Journey

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When it comes to the Young Lions -- that is, retro improvisers whose straight-ahead hard bop and post-bop are a throwback to the '50s and '60s -- there are two equally absurd viewpoints in the jazz world. The Stanley Crouch/Wynton Marsalis crowd sees them as musical saviors who are rescuing jazz from the "evils and horrors" of fusion, avant-garde jazz, and jazz-funk; at the opposite extreme are avant-gardists who insist that the Young Lions are putting the nail in jazz's creative coffin. But truth be told, the Young Lions will be neither jazz' salvation nor its downfall. Innovators and traditionalists both have their place in jazz, and when it comes to trumpet playing, there is room for a risk-taking explorer like Dave Douglas, as well as a more traditional Young Lion such as Sean Jones. Eternal Journey, Jones' first album as a leader, finds the trumpeter drawing on the influence of Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Woody Shaw, and other big-toned icons -- Jones definitely appreciates the trumpeters with the big, fat, full-bodied tones, although there are also hints of the softer, more economical Miles Davis in some of his playing. Jones is no innovator; the Ohio native was born in the late '70s, but stylistically, he sounds like he just stepped out of the '50s or '60s. This hard bop/post-bop disc not only underscores Jones' talents as a soloist, but also as a composer; he wrote half of the material himself, and his writing is certainly respectable on tunes that range from the driving "At the Last Minute" to the reflective ballad "John." When it comes to interpreting popular music, Jones tends to over-emphasize Tin Pan Alley warhorses that have been beaten to death over the years. But all things considered, Eternal Journey is a promising and enjoyably solid, if derivative, debut for the Young Lion.

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