Ben Jones

It Might as Well Be Swing

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Australian reedman Ben Jones plays a Chu Berry model tenor sax, getting the same deep, voluptuous sound from the instrument as the performer for whom the model was named. Jones has followed the route carved out by the traditional saxophonists rather than entering the John Coltrane/Sonny Rollins school. This album demonstrates skills with the alto and the clarinet and that he can sing a song, instrumentally and vocally. His vocalizing is soft and pleasant in the manner of Chet Baker and Harry Connick, Jr. He fulfills two other qualifications for a singer: He has good diction and stays in tune, although on "When I Take My Sugar to Tea," it gets a little too close for comfort. Jones' alto work is quite impressive, again taking the mainstream approach in the manner of a Benny Carter rather than hitching himself to the Charlie Parker star. The sidemen on the session fit well with Jones' down-to-earth, straight-from-the-shoulder, no-frills approach to the music. Veterans Col Nolan and Kevin Hunt are on piano, working with house bassist David Seidel and alternating drummers Billy Ross and Adam Pache to keep the rhythm in tow while taking a few tasteful solos. The session is further enhanced by the presence of veteran Australian tenor man Tom Baker on some cuts. The original "See Here" provides a vehicle for a swinging saxophone and trading of fours between Jones and Baker. Although only in his mid-twenties, Jones has absorbed the tradition and performing operandi of the great masters of the saxophone, adding his own ideas and technique on top of that, and revealing strong lyricism and improvisational ideas in his playing. If this debut album as a leader is any indication, he is on the road to becoming a considerable sax powerhouse.

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