published August 13, 2015 | posted by detroit
They just keep coming.
The number of exceptional young jazz musicians in Detroit these days is an everyday reminder of how fertile the soil remains here for nurturing the music. What is especially rewarding is how many of these players are well on their way to developing individual voices.
At 27, tenor saxophonist and native Detroiter De’Sean Jones, who will be celebrating the release of his debut CD, “Knomadik Reverence” (Detroit Music Factory), on Friday at the Jazz Cafe, has a sound as broad as the shoulders of his thick frame. Jones has an unselfconscious way of channeling his influences, which range from jazz to hip-hop, techno, rock and gospel, into something personal.
And despite what at first glance might appear to be a surface eclecticism, the music on “Knomadik Reverence” reads unmistakably as jazz — improvisatory, interactive and in touch with the tradition, even when it veers into contemporary vernacular.
Jones comes by all of his influences honestly. He was mentored by the late Detroit jazz trumpet legend Marcus Belgrave, and he put in time at Michigan State University with bassist Rodney Whitaker and at the Oberlin Conservatory. But he’s also a member of the Detroit techno music collective Underground Resistance, and he has toured with artists as diverse as Stevie Wonder, the Clark Sisters and Faith Evans.
The CD features Jones leading a septet of peers with connections to Oberlin through all-original material, most of it by Jones and filled with lots of contrasting rhythms, textures and dynamics. The group moves easily between lean, swinging post-bop passages and dense and slightly raw, guitar-drenched textures and bass and drum beats that sound like souped-up hip-hop, R&B and rock grooves. Jones’ solos move from simmer to boil quickly, but he avoids easy grandstanding and long soliloquies.
In fact, the music typically eschews melody-solos-melody structure for more layered compositions and an ensemble-based aesthetic. The band — which includes trumpeter Aaron Janik, vibraphonist Chase Jackson, guitarist Conrad Reeves, keyboardist Shea Pierre, bassist Matthew Adomeit, drummer Austin Vaughn — lacks the consistency and expressive weight more experienced players would bring to the table. But to everyone’s credit, the music makes a statement that’s larger than the sum of the parts.
One additional caveat: At just more than 36 minutes, the CD is unusually short. While I typically find most of today’s recordings far too long-winded, here’s one disc that could have used an additional tune or two. On the plus side, you can digest the eight concentrated tracks in a single, fulfilling gulp.
For the CD-release party, Jones will be joined by Janik on trumpet and Reeves on guitar, along with Ian Finkelstein on piano, Alex White on drums and the great Bob Hurst on bass.