"About The Music "
“This music is everything to me. It comes from the deepest depths of my heart, the innermost being of my soul, and God has blessed me with some amazing musicians to share the gifts that God has given to me with the world.” These are the words of Roger Jones, speaking about the music contained on this album, ‘Higher Calling’. The immediacy and heartfelt nature of the work will be readily apparent to anyone who listens to it. There is a respect and reverence for the past jazz masters, as well as an adventurous spirit striving forward to attain new expression within the framework of jazz music.
Pianist and composer Roger Jones has assembled an outstanding group of musicians to help bring his musical and deeply personal musical vision to life. Saxophonist De'Sean Jones plays with a conviction, power, and depth that brings to mind the great works of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Bassist Josef Deas shows a rare level of thoughtfulness in his playing, combined with a deep ability to swing. Drummer Nate Winn exhibits a mastery of a wide range of dynamic expression, from delicate nuances within ballads to explosive propulsions of force.
Roger is a native of Flint, MI, and has been playing piano professionally since 1989. He attended Oberlin Conservatory, and has gone on to play around the world, performing with such jazz icons as Joe Henderson, J.J. Johnson, Marcus Belgrave. He has sat in with masters of this generation such as Wallace Roney, Wynton Marsalis, and Roy Hargrove. His incredible technical ability is only matched by the deep level of emotion and passion that is imbued within his music. When asked about his musical influences, Roger says “Overall, my greatest influence musically is probably Miles Davis. Pianistically, of course, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Art Tatum, guys like that.”
The album starts out with “Reality Check”, a medium tempo tune which rhythmically references Miles Davis’ “Milestones” during the head, but actually expands it further, before swinging hard during the solos by De’Sean and Roger. “Pushing Through” has a sound that is somewhat reminiscent of the great mid-60’s Blue Note recordings by Wayne Shorter, with a bittersweet yearning throughout. The loose yet cohesive rhythm section work underneath the piano solo is especially impressive. “Moving On” starts with a solo piano section which some may characterize as “avant-garde”, giving way to a poignant ballad. The piano solo is evocative of Thelonious Monk in some sections, with its vacillations between abrasiveness and beauty. “Searching” is a delicate song, featuring some of the most lyrical work on the album. DeSean’s expert handling of the unusual and gorgeous melody is simply brilliant. “Where Do We Go From Here” has a mysterious feel to it, an inherent questioning quality. The group deftly changes back and forth between different feels throughout the performance, reflecting the uncertainty inherent in the title. “New Territory” is a beautiful waltz in 3/4 time, and has a majestic, stately feel to it. “From Deep Within” begins with an emotional, very personal solo piano section. The band comes in with a reflective, moving empathy. “No Limits” is a remarkable performance, starting with piano, bass, and drums in tight unison around a syncopated line. This builds as the sax solo begins and the drums and bass dance around in support, with no piano. When the piano finally comes in during the sax solo, the intensity builds even more. Under the piano solo, the band starts swinging really hard, and the energy peaks as we are brought back in by the saxophone to the main melody with the entire group, bringing the work as a whole to an explosive finish.
The incredible music on this album strikes a rare balance between the cerebral and the emotional. The songs often exhibit a dense harmonic complexity, while at the same time retaining a pure, visceral immediacy that cannot be denied. This combination of intellectual and passionate characteristics is emblematic of the very best of artistic expression, and you can hear it all in this music. Roger puts it this way: “I’m at a very creative time in my life. The guys in the band are at a very creative time in their lives. Everything has just amalgamated together incredibly well. The sound we’re able to produce at this time, I feel, is a sound like no other. I think it’s somewhat nostalgic, in a sense that you can hear influences of our musical forefathers, but it also, in a very direct way, it’s pushing the music towards not only what’s happening now, musically, but towards the future.” It would seem that, in this case, the music is indeed a truly higher calling.
Roger Jones – piano
De'Sean Jones – tenor saxophone
Josef Deas – bass