Jessica Jones Quartet

Word

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Jessica Jones plays the piano and tenor saxophone, but her reverence for the spoken word and song forms is the centerpiece for this recording of jazz tunes, poetry, and modern mainstream and contemporary music. Vocalist Candace Jones sings a program of emotional originals and standards for half the disc, while poets Abe Maneri and Arisa White lend their expertise to the "other" side in spoken and recited texts that go deeper into the human condition. Jessica Jones takes a back seat more as an accompanist, but she is surrounded with such top-drawer players as bassist Ken Filiano, drummer Lou Grassi or Kenny Wollesen, bassist and saxophonist Dayna Stephens, French horn master Mark Taylor, and second saxophonist Tony Jones. Of the selections featuring the girlish and cutesy but sophisticated voice of Candace Jones, you get a hurried version of "Yesterdays" with the able Stephens on tenor saxophone, and a typical take of "My Romance" with both Jessica Jones and Tony Jones on tenor saxes and no piano. The originals have Candace Jones playing the insular observer during "Everything Is," telling a tale of the jazz brunch joint/nightclub "Miss Kelly's," playing the waiting game during "Come Down the Hall," and expressing the abject rejection of a suitor with all the reasons why on "The Roses." The poetry tracks are more substantive, vocally and musically. "Saratoga Avenue" is outstanding in its mixed meters directed by Filiano's always strong bass playing, with Arisa White speaking of a place that could easily be her hometown. Abe Maneri's "Daddy's Music and Love Talk Talk/Diagnosis Henry" is much heavier and poignant, and features a three-member horn section. "End/Two Psalms" has a dour Maneri in a pseudo self-deprecating mode with wry and sarcastic lines like "Never mind my ideas," "I'm overloaded," and "I'd like to be ignored more often" over the songlike saxophones of Jessica Jones and Tony Jones. A statement and needed response during "So Misunderstanding" over a free instrumental improvisation reflect the tension and anxiety you would expect, as White and Maneri act as the conflicted married couple with the thought "We have an ocean between us" countered by "I don't even laugh -- right?" The lone piece that de-emphasizes wordplay is the excellent "What Purpose Is Your Pain," a 6/8 workout that lets the horns of Jessica Jones, Tony Jones, and Mark Taylor act more as vocal instruments than on any other cut. An interesting though not entirely innovative effort, it is thankfully not a rap record, as the stylized title from pop vernacular might imply. It will be interesting to hear what the talented Jessica Jones follows this up with.

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