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Sean Jones: The Search Within

Sean Jones

On his fifth outing for Mack Avenue, the 30-year-old trumpeter Sean Jones takes another step in his continuing development as a frontman and formidable presence on the modern jazz scene. While his hard-bop roots come to the fore on bravura high-note numbers like the swinging “Transitions,” the turbulent Latin-flavored “The Storm” and “Sean’s Jones Comes Down” (a tricky, time-shifting vehicle written for him by mentor Frank Foster), Jones also prominently displays his lyrical, tender side on affecting originals like “The Ambitious Violet” (inspired by the poet/philosopher Khalil Gibran), the soothing samba groover “Life Cycles” and the impassioned ballad “Love’s Lullaby.”

Up-and-coming saxophonists Brian Hogans (alto) and Walter Smith (tenor) make a strong impression here in their fiery exchanges with Jones on the urgent uptempo swingers as well as their sensitive interplay on lush ballads. Pianist Orrin Evans’ contributions are essential throughout, including his turn on Fender Rhodes on Hogans’ buoyant 6/8 offering “Summer’s Spring,” which bears some resemblance to the early edition of Return to Forever with Airto Moreira and Joe Farrell. Outstanding drummer Obed Calvaire elevates the proceedings with his endlessly creative ways of coloring a groove, be it a gorgeous ballad like “The Ambitious Violet,” a blazing hard-bop romp like “Transitions,” a churning, clave-informed jam like “The Storm” or a funky downhome groover like “Sunday Reflections.”

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