Jesse Jones, Jr.
Bobby Ramirez, April 12, 2010
As seen and enjoyed countless times at Jazz venues in Miami and South Florida, Jesse Jones Jr. can potentially become a one-man musical wrecking crew on any given night.
With or without a band, with or without a saxophone in hand, Jones Jr becomes “Mr. Entertainment.” And on this night, Jesse was being himself; his saxophone was on fire and the audience loved it.
On this night, Jesse’s presence on stage radiated with a particular sense that enveloped the essence of Jazz. Not only displaying amazing technical prowess on the saxophone, Jesse expressed a soulful quality that shined like a morning sun rising to inspire and invigorate everything around him.
With an intensive musical bag of Jazzy tricks, Jesse plays the sax; Jesse sings the blues; Jesse scats; Jesse produces unusual sounds from his saxophone and flute; Jesse gets the audience to sing; Jesse strolls throughout the venue; Jesse inspires you to dance the Mambo. And if you’re sitting close to the stage, Jesse may even have something to say about your food.
From Coltrane to Gato Barbieri, Jesse’s repertoire is a plethora of Jazz styles that includes traditional Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Bossa Nova, Latin Jazz, ballads. And if you ask, he may throw in a Latin Rumba Tango for desert.
The band included the great Jazz pianist Dolph Castellano and drummer Joel DeRuggiero. Both gentlemen generously contributed to the Jazz tapestry with great solos, as well as adding essential nuances and authenticity which helped accentuate the overall musical energy that emanated from the stage.
While it might have been another cool and breezy Monday night in Miami, Yvonne, Jesse, Dolph and Joel made it a memorable evening that may go down as another one of those best kept secrets.
Holly Spillane, June 25, 2010
Just Another Day In Paradise – With Jesse Jones Jr.
by Holly Spillane, June 25, 2009
Last night’s magical setting at Villa Amici’s oceanfront property on exclusive Golden Beach was the perfect staging for the world class Jazz of South Florida’s own Jesse Jones Jr. and his world class quintet, celebrating the new cd release of Jones’ “THE SO THEN COLLECTION”. Featuring brother extraordinaire, Melton Mustafa, on (of course) trumpet plus assorted percussion instruments, joined by the amazing Brian Murphy on electric piano, the always swingin’ James Cotman on drums, and a very soulful Matt Bonelli on upright bass, the gentlemen - led by Jesse on alto and soprano saxes, flute and signature vocal stylings, literally took the music to the stars. Though the attendance was less than expected, those who made the effort to come out and support one of our local legends were treated to an exceptional event to be remembered.
Veteran radio personality, Stu Grant, had the pleasure of emceeing the evening with his usual finesse. You may know that Stu’s long stint hosting Love 94’s Sunday Jazz Brunch, where he was the only local commercial radio host playing non-commercial and independent artists’ music in his lineup, came to an end recently when the station abruptly changed format from Smooth Jazz to Pop. However, it didn’t take long for Stu to set up shop on Palm Beach’s WXEL 90.7 FM station, with a 6-10pm Saturday night show titled “Jazz Impressions”, and he wasted little time scheduling a two hour interview with Jesse Jones Jr. on last weeks’ show. Last night Stu repeated his critique of the new cd as being “worthy of national and even international recognition” and I think the fortunate attendees at last nights’ concert will wholeheartedly agree.
The set opened with Just Friends, planned as a sound check, and chosen to honor the loyal audience. Bamm! Off we went into a sizzling hour of songs from the new recording starting with cut one, Cannon B and into Having You Is A Blessing, featuring Jesse’s soulful voice and scat-sax-singing. For the readers who may not have experienced this art form, Jesse Jones Jr. must rank as one of the premier performers and his audiences love it! Jones Jr. went on to explain that the up-tempo, flute-featured title track, So Then, was named for an expression his father used, and it must have evoked happy memories because the song was a joyous, Florida- flavored feel with Mustafa’s wonderful muted trumpet, Bonelli’s singing bass lines and Jones, complimenting Cotman’s lively rhythms, scratching on guiro.
Track 2, It’s Better Than Cool, aptly describes Jesse and all of the musicians featured for the cd release event, and it should be noted that, due to a late change of date for this engagement, two members of the original recording were unable to perform. The very talented bassist Paul Shewchuk and acclaimed pianist Silvano Monasterios were featured artists on the cd, and often accompany Jesse in his live shows. These very cool cats were missed last night but, luckily, they were brilliantly subbed by Bonelli on bass and Murphy on keys, and we were reminded of the wealth of talent that resides here in our South Florida back yard.
The muggy early summer evening turned into a balmy and breezy scene as guests were treated to the world class music as well as complimentary wines and gourmet cheeses offered by host Richard Lasry who had coupled the event as a charity fund-raiser for AJWS, American Jewish World Service. Lasry rents the private villa for special events and, with his friendly staff, created a very elegant and relaxing space with scattered white couches surrounding a pool draped by seagrape trees, and complimentary stars overhead with views overlooking the ocean and private beach.
After a short break the band continued the cd debut with an interesting, Mid-eastern flavored song featuring exotic soprano sax and titled Tharbis, named for the wife of Moses which Jones Jr. seemed intrigued to discover. He described immediately being inspired to compose the music and his vision of the couple falling in love upon meeting while camels were parading - or as Jesse described “struttin and humpin” - across the desert. The composer’s gospel roots also were evident throughout the wonderful SO THEN COLLECTION live performance and each song seems a deliberate honoring of people and forces dear to Jesse Jones Jr.’s heart. My Brother Melton, To The Mighty Son (a real foot stomper) and all of the remaining cuts from this 11 song recording are simply the work of a master musician leading an equally masterful group of South Florida’s finest.
The Miami native has, along with brother Melton, long defined and continues to create what can rightly be coined as the original Miami Jazz sound, and The Sunshine Jazz Organization is proud to have been in attendance and supporting one of its’ own. We devote individual and organization energy to promoting jazz performances and education so it is an honor to encourage everyone who loves jazz and well crafted and performed music, to contact Jesse Jones Jr. to purchase THE SO THEN COLLECTION and to find out where they can catch the artist performing live!
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