Thursday, August 05, 2010

Music Notes -- Initiative

Initiative, by Dallas area sax and flutist Ron Jones is a funky, soulful project that is made with a number of the area’s finest jazz musicians. One might expect a lack of continuity, but I found the whole disc very enjoyable.
Initiative opens with “Crazy May,” a fun little number with nice solo work by Scott Bucklin on piano and one of my favorite drummers, Mike Drake. I do wish it didn’t fade out like a smooth jazz song, but until that moment, it has me dancing.
On “Bill’s Fluke,” Jones lets go with solo that seems to go all over without losing the sense of melody. Eric “Scorch” Scortia counters with a furious solo of his own on the Hammond B-3, and Alan Green sounds as if he has managed to use the whole drum kit when his turn comes around.
Jones plays the flute on the wonderful, breezy “Yiasou.” I was reminded of the great Herbie Mann’s forays into Latin jazz on this cut. I want to hear more flute work from Jones every time I hear this tune.
All but one of the songs on Initiative are originals. The one cover is of the Pink Floyd classic “Us and Them.” This pushes the project into the territory of fusion, but I think it would please even those who don’t lean that way musically. Jones and company do justice to a haunting song.
Hindsight” is a beautiful tune, featuring Dave Zoller on piano and Drew Phelps playing bass. The tone is sweet and the accompaniment delicious. This is followed by “Ornery,” a jumping and fun tune. I can easily imagine a crowded dance floor in a hot juke joint.
Next comes “Traffic Blues,” a smoldering piece that has Eric Scortia again tearing it up on the Hammond B3.  Then we have “Potluck.” Here we have another fine Bucklin solo while Gerald Stockton and Mike Drake provide a funky beat.
“Survival” is the album closer. It is one of the most fusion laden songs on Initiative. There is a sweet guitar solo by Micah Burgess, but the best stuff here is from Jones. I think his soloing here is about the best of the whole disc.
Initiative is a wholly satisfying album, not only for Jones’ fine playing, but also because it showcases some of the finest talents in the Dallas/Fort Worth jazz scene. Probably the main problem with the disc is that at 39 minutes, it is too darn short.

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