Jones started playing trumpet at the age of about 10 and went on to earn a degree in classical trumpet performance from Youngstown State University and a masters degree from Rutgers University. He currently teaches at Duquesne University and has worked with such jazz luminaries as Chico O’Farrill, Gerald Wilson, Jon Faddis and Frank Foster. For this album he has assembled a rhythm section of jazz legends, with Orrin Evans and Mulgrew Miller on piano, Charles Fambrough on bass and Ralph Peterson on drums. Joining him on the front line is another young soon-to-be superstar, Tia Fuller, on alto sax, soprano sax and flute.
When I think of a musician that qualifies as a "young lion", I look for more than just a great player. I look for someone that is standing on the shoulders of giants - someone that has a firm grasp of the history of jazz and the ability to express in their playing the potential to step it up to the next level. Jones has that ability in spades. And not only is he a great player, he’s also a fantastic composer and arranger. Of the eleven tunes presented here, he wrote five of them ("John", "The Serpent", "At The Last Minute", "Searching" and "95 South") and Fuller wrote two ("Gullyism" and "Eternal Journey"). The remaining 4 are standards - "You Are My Everything", "God Bless The Child", "The Very Thought Of You" and one of the most beautiful arrangements that I have ever heard of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow". Jones’ version of the Arlen/Harburg classic [here titled "Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Bruce’s Rainbow)"], has been reharmonized and the melody slightly altered. The effect is mesmerizing - poignant, tender, sad and completely original.
Jones has a sound that is reminiscent of a young Freddie Hubbard - warm, full and fiery. Fuller shows that she’s equally destined for greatness whether she’s playing alto, soprano or flute. Having her on this recording gives it an additional energy that is hard to put into words. She, like Jones, plays with a fantastic technique tempered with unbridled passion, and her compositions are equally complex and charming. Of course, having the rhythm section of Evans, Miller, Fambrough and Peterson behind them makes it hard to go wrong. Sometimes young players tend to cower a bit under the pressure of playing with such jazz stalwarts, but Jones and Fuller rise to the occasion and show that they are quite deserving to be in such company.
This is a stellar debut recording from a couple of exciting new players that leaves me eagerly awaiting their next release.