Sean Jones – No Need for Words (2011)

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Sean Jones does something with No Need To Words” that’s sorely needed: Talk about love in a complete way. Not just the romantic part, or the passionate part (though that’s here, too) but the other parts — the angry parts, the melancholy parts. The part where you thank a parent for everything she did; the part where you try to let go of the hurt caused by your father. The part where love turns into something else.

This isn’t boy-meets-girl, so much as boy tries to put his arms around everything that love means, in all of its joy, beauty and messy turmoil.

No Need for Words, out today on Mack Avenue Records, is Jones’ first recording since stepping down in 2010 as lead trumpeter for Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a chair he’d held for five years. It bursts with an appropriate individuality. Where your average meditation on love is content to cuddle and coo, often ending in something approximating a tickle fight, Jones takes a braver tack.

For every jumbled moment of sensual lip-smacking, as on the title track, Jones explores the growling, almost dangerous fires that some relationships stoke on “Love’s Fury.” (Guitarist Matt Stevens’ turn lives up to the name, too.) For every call for universal acceptance — as on “Look and See,” with a standout turn by altoist Brian Hogans — there follow deeper complexities, as with “Momma,” a nod of thanks for parental guidance that never settles for easy nostalgia.

The percussive “Olive Juice” couldn’t be a sweeter approximation of a bright new ardor, but then “Obsession” drops a curtain of danger on everything that came before. “Touch and Go” marries the two halves of this concept, using a stuttering start-stop figure to convey hate’s thin line. Even “Forgiveness,” what might have been a dark rumination on missteps made by Jones’ late father, soars with an unexpected gospel tinge.

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Orrin Evans is part of a core group of players who have played on four Sean Jones projects in five years. No Need for Words is Jones’ sixth album as a leader. He toured Europe last summer with former Miles Davis pianist Marcus Miller, and will return again this year with Miller, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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