The word on Uncivilized Poise is extremely. As in extremely varied, extremely bad, and extremely good.
First the bad. Brad Jones attempts on "Black Bread" and "Po’ Man’s Ecstacy" to create hybrid between jazz and hip-hop by featuring rapper Beans. He may be talented but he doesn’t show it here. Instead, Beans gives uninspired performances that are just boring to listen to. What makes it worse is that both tunes were very good until he shows up. D.K. Dyson does not ruin the two cuts that she performs on - they were awful to begin with. "Pocket Prayer" and "The Intrepid Storm" are bad R&B tunes with virtually no jazz elements.
When these guests are not in the picture, however, Jones and his four sidemen shine brightly. The two tunes with Beans were great until his entrance. "Black Bread" opens with a soul-jazz groove before changing into more traditional -that is modern jazz- garb. The most impressive element of this cut is some fine soloing by saxophonist Bob Debellis. "Po Man’s Ecstasy" is even better. It opens with what sounds like stereotypical new music. That ends quickly when Debellis chimes in with some more good work. Debellis is not daring but rather wonderfully competent. Guitarist David Gilmore is critical for the changes in the songs tempos and is the highlight of this track all around.
The disc’s real highlight though is "3 Guesses." This slow tune comes in at just under 4 and a half minutes and is a great reason for headphones were created. Bass playing opens the pieces with an occasional cymbal sound from drummer Abe Fogle or a splash from Lawrence. Gilmore then enters as a bizarre rumble fills what remains underneath it all. All of the players save Fogle and Jones proceed to solo in ways that call forth both classical and jazz traditions. None of the other cuts are quite as good but still feature some fine playing. "Are We Having Fun Yet" features some wonderful shredding by Gilmore, for instance.
This is Jones’ debut as a leader and so the most impressive element is the strength of his writing. Jones wrote nine of the ten tunes here while the entire group gets credit for the other. The cuts that work do so because the musicians are able to interact at key points and expand on definite themes. Hopefully Jones will continue to develop as a composer in the future while also learning to not bother with what doesn’t work.