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Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise)

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Album Review

Given the depth, breadth, and sheer taste on Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), saxophonist Darius Jones has come a long way as both a bandleader and a composer in a relatively short time. One needn't go far into the album to discover this, either. Check pianist Matt Mitchell's sustained, spacious notes and initial chords that open the album on "The Enjoii Moon" before Jones, bassist Trevor Dunn (on upright), and drummer Ches Smith enter the frame. Their resonance sets up a simple, lovely, and lyrical head that articulates itself as an open-ended ballad before the band moves to harmonically stretch things — but never too far. They work each element of those opening notes and lyric statements from every angle, bringing solos by Mitchell and Jones round the inside of that melody — even when they briefly appear to leave it entirely. This tune acts as a statement of purpose on the album. Most of these head melodies are quite simple, there is none of the academic knottiness that is so prevalent in both post-bop and avant-garde jazz these days. Jones uses an economy of language to showcase the ensemble's keen interplay and intuitive connectivity even as they extend formulaic concerns to someplace near the breaking point — such as on "The Fagley Blues" and "My Baby." The ability to remain within the frame is no easy task with such a talented and normally ebullient group of improvisers, but Jones' tunes allow for a maximum in both creative and communicative terms. Even when things move toward skronk in Jones' own playing, as they do on the otherwise post-bop "Winkie," he holds his own inner line. His economy of tone and intervallic exploration without sacrificing emotive expression is akin to Wayne Shorter's. On the nearly straight-ahead ballad "So Sad," one can also hear the influence of the great soul-jazz tenor men. Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) is the new high-water mark for Jones' leadership ventures in the future; it stands as a giant step forward in his catalog.

Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), Darius Jones
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