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Sean Jones: Roots

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It’s not surprising that Wynton Marsalis recently chose Sean Jones as lead trumpet for the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Jones is a consummate musician with a rich tone and brilliant articulation. But it’s also hard to imagine there being a Sean Jones-a twentysomething jazz trumpeter with impressive credentials and artistry-today without the influence of Marsalis. In his deep respect for jazz traditions, his conceptual sense and in his embrace of trumpet traditions that reach back beyond bebop, Jones is firmly a member of the Marsalis generation.

This is Jones’ second Mack Avenue album ably produced by Al Pryor exploring historical jazz implications. Gemini was his homage to, and exorcism of, Miles Davis’ influence, both acoustic and electric. Roots explores the jazz connection to the church, and the devotional heft of gospel music. The CD follows a definite arc, beginning with a short a cappella traditional hymn and ending with a trumpet-piano duet on a spiritual. In between, Jones plays in quartet, quintet (mining soul-jazz) and trio (churchy organ and drums) contexts, in a repertoire of new and classic jazz and gospel tunes. Ellington’s “Come Sunday” is exquisite, Jones’ trumpet solo indelible. Pianist Orrin Evans is the most impressive of a fine group of supporting players. But this album is most winning as a warm, heartfelt, all-of-a-piece jazz mood of faith and creativity.