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November 2006

Rodney Jones
Rodney Jones: Live at Smoke

Though it features the—let’s call them understated—production values that typify Mel Bay’s DVD releases, guitarist Rodney Jones’ Live at Smoke does sound excellent and convincingly captures the air at a hip New York club—replete with wait staff periodically passing through your view of the bandstand. Jones comes from the Wes/Green/Benson axis, though he boasts versatility unseen in his heroes and hasn’t yet relegated his talents to vapid commercial material (though “Mobius Three” finds him toying with that style). Jones is a groove-jazz extraordinaire, as cuts like “Soup Bone,” “Soul Manifesto” and Odilen Dibango’s “Soul Makossa” attest, but he’s also adept at standards (a sparkling chord-melody solo arrangement leads “Round Midnight”), Takoma Records-esque acoustic fingerstyle meanderings (“For Love Alone”), hard B.B. and Albert King-style blues (“Miss B’s Blues”) and veraciously swinging bop (an uncredited closing breakout of “Oleo”).

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