Rodney Jones

The Undiscovered Few

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Guitarist Jones has a few other CDs that made you stop and listen, but this one is a true revelation. It explores the music from an expanded compositional standpoint as opposed to the A-B (with solos) -A format. The improvisational aspect of the leader is not de-emphasized, but this superb music, with its mainstream inclinations and joyous horn-embellished large group charts, comes out in a stunning and refreshing manner. Jones has substantial help from top-notch peers as saxophonists Donald Harrison, Greg Osby, and Tim Reis; trumpeters Tim Hagans and Earl Gardner; pianists Shedrick Mitchell, Mike Renzi, and Mulgrew Miller; bassist Lonnie Plaxico; and drummer Eric Harland, among others. As a player on his hollow bodied, non-treated electric guitar, Jones is economical, crisp, and driving. The music he makes is richly constructed, filling up space. Horns cry out, swing like mad, commanding attention. These charts are quite remarkable with presence and effective clarity. "Light & Shadows," "The Message," "Circus Wheel," and "Third Orbit" pop and bop, crackling with syncopated underpinnings. A tour de force blues "Oliver & Thad" for Oliver Nelson and Thad Jones swells with an orchestral quality and expansive concept that is a common theme throughout. The music jumps out at you. Smaller groupings give Jones no less room to stretch as on the Latin-inspired "Tradewinds," or duets with violinist Regina Carter on "Tears of a Forgotten Child," and cellist Jesse Levy on "Through the Eyes of a Child (For Cara)." You're going to exclaim a huge "wow!" upon hearing this one for the first time and with repeated listenings gain more enjoyment from this exciting recording. Clearly an extraordinary modern jazz effort, certainly the best of Jones' career, and a solid candidate for Jazz CD of 1999.

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