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Chris Jonas

Chris Jonas

Soprano saxophonist/composer Chris Jonas, and his group The Sun Spits Cherries, realize that experimental jazz doesn’t have to mean free collective improvisation. On Jonas’ eight-part composition “The Vermilion,” also the name of his new CD, there’s a lot of attention to composition, and the solos are related to some preset structures. Jonas gives soloists parameters, but they’re permeable parameters. “I want to compose as little as possible and let the improvisers compose,” he says. Jonas’ writing is ingenious throughout The Vermilion (Hopscotch), and The Sun Spits Cherries-trombonist Joe Fiedler, bass trombonist Chris Washburne, drummer Andrew Barker and guest pianist Myra Melford-improvise impressively on the CD.

Raised in Laguna Beach, Calif., Jonas attended Oberlin College, where he played music but majored in art. He later moved to San Francisco to pursue a painting career. “I found myself falling into a circle of musicians who were composition majors at Mills College, where Anthony Braxton was one of the primary mentors. For me, being exposed to improviser-composers who worked in a community setting encouraged me to focus my efforts full time on music.”

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