by Jason Parker
JEREMY JONES XTET
THE TRIPLE DOOR
MAY 1, 2008
It was an evening of passion, energy and beautiful music last night at The Triple Door in Seattle. More than 200 music lovers gathered to celebrate the release of Awakening to Life, the new CD by The Jeremy Jones Xtet on Broken Time Records. J&J Music, Broken Time and Jeremy have been planning this show for months now, and when the night finally arrived everyone was ready to celebrate and lay down the positive vibes.
The night began with an opening set by another group with a forthcoming CD on Broken Time, The Josh Rawlings Trio. (In the interest of full discloser, it should be noted that Josh Rawlings is one of the “J’s” in J&J Music.) Josh on piano, bassist Nate Omdal and drummer D’Vonne Lewis played masterfully on four of Josh’s original compositions, including the Abdullah Ibrahim-inspired title track “Climbing Stairs.” The song’s performance included rainforest sounds courtesy of Josh and the audience. The chemistry between Rawlings and longtime bassist Nate Omdal was clear throughout the night, as the two young masters weaved their lines in and around each other in creative and exciting ways, all the while never stepping on each others’ toes. D’vonne Lewis (subbing for regular drummer Adam Kessler) brought the house down with his powerful solos and superb comping, all-the-while pushing and propelling the trio to thrilling heights. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing the CD from start to finish and I know you’re going to dig the record and Josh’s compositions. Stay tuned for news of the release date.
After a short break came the Jeremy Jones Xtet, starting with Jeremy alone on stage, laying down the beat to his composition “Flowin’.” Jeremy was joined one at a time by his killin’ band: Phil Sparks on bass, John Hansen on piano, Steve Treseler on tenor and Thomas Marriott on trumpet and flugelhorn. By the time the whole band was finally assembled and blowing, the energy flowin’ from the stage was palpable, and while the horns were out front and each member of the band was playing at an extremely high level, it was clear that this band belonged to the drummer.
Jeremy led the group through eight of his original tunes from the new CD with smiles, swing and some well placed bombs, switching all the while from sticks to brushes to mallets to bells and back again. He played every part of his kit; rims, heads, cymbals and stands. He marked the sections of his tunes with press-rolls, tom hits and stop-time. As the night wore on, Jeremy’s shining spirit emanated from the stage, filling the room with joy and washing over everyone in attendance with a contagious warmth.
Trumpeter Thomas Marriott was at his best when he was spitting out flowing blues lines on tunes like “Blues for PJ” and “Animalian”, his clarion tone jumping from the bell of his horn. He also displayed his buttery flugelhorn tone, particularly stirring on his feature “Reticence.” It is clear when listening to Tom play that he is among the top trumpeters not only in Seattle, but on the Jazz scene today. Tenorman Steve Treseler, who I had not heard before, really impressed me with his big, Dexter Gordon-like tone and ability to make clear and interesting statements on the horn. His solos were always well thought out and story like, never going on too long or meandering aimlessly. On “Sparkling McLean” (written in tribute to Jackie McLean) the lines poured from his soul as if he was channeling the late, great sax player. And while his sound reminded me of players from the 40’s and 50’s, his harmonic conception is decidedly modern. John Hansen, fresh back from a tour of Istanbul, was playing at his usual high level, pushing the soloists when comping and flying over the keys and through the changes when it was time for his solos. Phil Sparks held down the low-end all night, playing a couple of tasty solos and providing the rock-solid support to the soloists for which he is well known. He got a chance to shine on the intro to “Blues for PJ,” which he and Jeremy started as a duet before settling into the groove.
The band was joined by two special guests for the song “Awaken to Life” – Evan Flory-Barnes on bass and Michelle Khazak on vocals. Evan and Jeremy play together in The Teaching, and have an almost telepathic rapport. The two locked in from beat one and never let go of each other. And Khazak breathed amazing life into the lyrics, sung on the record by Jeremy himself. She took a vocalized solo on the tune that was haunting and beautiful.
After the band played the last notes of “Blues for PJ,” there was a slight pause before Jeremy punctuated the evening with a huge bomb, quite the fitting end to the set. It was like an exclamation point at the end of a sentence that you know was the climax of the story, but were thankful for the reminder nonetheless. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the touching and heart-felt explanation Jeremy gave for the title of the CD. He talked about his own awakening to the present moment, his yoga studies, and his wish that his music, both live and on CD, can act as an entry-point for his listeners to find, as Eckhart Tolle puts it, the “power of now”. He was also quick to mention that that part of the evening (the explanation) was optional!
Like Jeremy himself, the evening felt warm, passionate and full of life. I’m sure all who were in attendance left feeling filled with the beautiful spirit that resides inside of Jeremy and in us all.