Darius Jones Quartet – The Book Of Mæ'bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise) (2012)

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photo: Michael Lease (feature photo by Peter Gannushkin)


The Book Of Mæ’bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise) is the third in a series of what saxophonist Darius Jones calls the “sonic tone poem” in his life. Whereas last year’s Big Gurl (Smell My Dream) is an expression of his experiences as an up and coming saxophonist in his native Virginia, The Book Of Mæ’bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise) is about the exploration of love and beauty in music.

To Jones, Mæ’bul is a character who embodies every woman he’s loved and with whom he’s had a relationship. The music he makes for this outing accordingly seeks to explore through music the mystery, beauty and grace of women, especially those close to him. To help get those qualities across, Jones introduces a new Quartet, with Ches Smith on drums, Trevor Dunn on bass and Matt Mitchell on piano. Using the same pianist and drummer as Tim Berne’s Snakeoil quartet (but with a more common structure with the presence of a bass player in Dunn), Mitchell’s piano on this Darius Jones record is the critical element that transforms his sonic imprint and gives it the feminine aura that wasn’t present on Big Gurl.

With Mitchell in the line-up, Jones cedes some sonic space to the piano, but not having to carry the entire melody is liberating to Jones, as he saves himself to make his most emotional enunciations at the most opportune times. “The Enjoli Moon” is illustrative of that strategy, where Mitchell converses quietly with Dunn while Jones rests, making Jones’ own solo turn more dramatic when he returns. Smith is not only handling the task of timekeeping, but actively interacts with everyone else. That’s evident on “Enjoli” but even more so on “The Fagley Blues,” a blues stretched to its very limit and deconstructed to its sub particles by the quartet. “Winkie,” meanwhile, is the closest Jones has veered to straight bop, but he puts his own mark on it with variations in tempo. Jones trades licks not only with Mitchell but with Dunn as well.

Three of the next four songs are romantic but still retaining the Darius Jones approach of liquid harmonies that like water, finds their own paths. “Be Patient With Me” (see YouTube video) is a prime manifestation of the beauty that Jones is seeking in his sound, spiritually untethered and eventually settling on a Latin-tinged groove. Jones’ big, dauntless and passionate tone is a perfect match for the tune. “You Have Me Seeing Red,” like “Patient,” starts out a little unsettled but moves into a delicate mode that Jones caresses with a sensitive horn. “So Sad” is the most restrained of the three, and Mitchell stands out for his economy of delivery, allowing Dunn to participate more. For much of the record, Jones only hints at his abstract side, until he plunges right into it for “Roosevelt,” though this one is sparser than his usual fare. Dunn and Smith play key roles in deciding the direction of this song more than does Jones and Mitchell.

By making nothing but themed based albums thus far, Darius Jones has done what many relative newcomers to the scene dare to do in the world of “out” jazz, and that’s fully define himself as an original player, composer and bandleader right from the get-go. The Book Of Mæ’bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise) continues his impressive start of a young career that’s quickly catching a lot of the right kind of notice. And for the right reasons.

The Book Of Mæ’bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise), by AUM Fidelity, is slated for release April 10.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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