Leroy Jones: Back to My Roots

Leroy Jones provides us with a link to the past while his trumpet, flugelhorn and vocals plant us firmly in the present. His latest album, Back to My Roots (Player Productions), is steeped in the New Orleans tradition of marching brass bands-but not often enough. His success at recapturing the essence of early New Orleans is more interesting than the straightahead jamming; Jones and trombonist Craig Klein show excellent rapport in their unison lines and solo work. The four tracks devoted to N’awlins nostalgia are distinguished by snare and bass drums, and, interestingly, by the tubalike sousaphone. Best of the lot are “Hangin’ Out With the Band” and “Leroy’s Special,” which make you want to get up and strut-probably due to Jeffrey Hills’ sousaphone playing. The other two have that same bottom, but the “trad” sound is diluted. Where one expects it, on “When the Saints,” the sousaphone is nowhere to be heard. Leroy is a fine trumpeter, better-than-average arranger and a good composer, but he should save his vocals for live appearances.