Wednesday, September 1, 1999

The Undiscovered Few

Posted By on Wed, Sep 1, 1999 at 12:00 AM

For 60 years, Blue Note has given its artists the freedom to build their own destiny. Innovators such as Sidney Bechet, Dexter Gordon and Ornette Coleman created a new jazz vernacular and psychology. Through reconstructing harmonies and rhythmic patterns they discovered a new way of speaking on their instruments, which is still being studied and refined today. The current generation of Blue Note musicians have added an introspective dimension to the label’s personality. This doesn’t imply that the music has lost its roughness, or its soulful quality. Guitarist Rodney Jones' music is an example of the direction that Blue Note artists are traveling in.

The Undiscovered Few is his fourth album, but his first for Blue Note. It’s a jazz album that has a contemplative bent, which Jones achieves through changing the size of his groups. On "Light and Shadows" he uses an octet. He duets with cellist Jesse Levy on the ballad "Through the Eyes of a Child" in which, appropriately, Jones’ playing has a childlike innocence. His up-tempo version of the standard "My Favorite Things" has an ornate liveliness. He glides through the melodies and chord progressions. Even on "Lesson Time," a swing cut, Jones maintains a refined grace during his solo.

Jones, a prodigious composer, wrote 10 songs for this album. The feel of his compositions is akin to tunes bassist Rodney Whitaker wrote for his Hidden Kingdom album. They offer a kaleidoscopic look into the complex rhythms of human nature. They use music to search for answers. With The Undiscovered Few, Jones shows that he’s a multidynamic jazz musician who’s helping to move Blue Note into a new direction.

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