Jul 27, 2011
Jazz musicians need to make a living just like everyone else. For the talented musician, this means taking advantage of opportunities not only in their main love – say, jazz – but also taking gigs in R&B, Hip-Hop, the college campus, the theatre, or anywhere else they can hone their craft.
This is the path that Melvin Jones has taken. His first CD as a band leader, Pivot, was released on Turnaround Records in April, and has been a staple on the Jazz Radio Charts since. For an initial offering, this is no rookie release – Jones has spent six years in academia as the Director of Bands and Instrumental Studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he had the opportunity to direct the world-renowned Morehouse College Jazz Ensemble and Marching Band. Dubbed the “House of Funk,” the marching band has received wide acclaim playing for both local and international events, including a Super Bowl and multiple nationally televised appearances.
He has shared the bandstand with heavies like Don Braden, Clark Terry, Terence Blanchard and Antonio Hart, and was a member of Illinois Jacquet’s last band, which captured his final recording at the Lincoln Center. His trumpet has been heard on recordings by Jennifer Holliday, TLC (their seminal Fanmail CD), the Pussycat Dolls, Pamela Williams and Sonny Emory.
I spoke with Jones has he came off the road from an eight-month-long national tour with Tyler Perry’s stage production entitled “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” We talked about the making of the Pivot CD, Smooth Jazz and its hold on the radio, and the impact his mentor, the world-renowned trumpeter and educator, the late William “Prof” Fielder had on his life and music. “Prof ’s” illustrious student roster includes greats like: Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, David Sanchez, Kenny Garrett, and Jones’ classmate Sean Jones.
Click here to enjoy Podcast 221, including music from:
Melvin Jones – “Flights Beyond“ from Pivot. The core of Melvin’s band is built around Mace Gibbard (who just released an exceptional CD under his own name) on sax and Rodney Jordan on bass, with Louis Heriveaux on piano and Leon Anderson on drums. Here they show their chops on an expressive ballad….
Melvin Jones – title track from Pivot. …and here they are ready to shake it up a bit on the title track.
Rio Negro – “Four” from Self Portrait. Not one to waste any spare time, Melvin has been involved in a Latin-tinged band with friends and classmates. Here they take on the Miles Davis classic, giving it a bit of south of the border swing. Jones is on trumpet, along with Oliver Santana on sax and flute, Kevin "Quino" Johnson on piano, Broderick Santiago and Joey Gonzales on percussion and drums, Eddie Cruz on bass, and Henry Velasquez on timbales.
Pamela Williams – “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” from The Look of Love. Jones played on the 2007 tribute CD to the music of Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, and Hal David led by “the Saxtress”.
Sun Ra – “Watusa” from The Nubians of Plutonia. William “Prof” Fielder was a major influence on Melvin, and here Fielder sits in on trumpet with the Arkestra on a 1959 release that includes Sun Ra on piano and Wurlitzer electric piano, Nate Pryor on trombone, James Spaulding and Marshall Allen on alto sax, John Gilmore on tenor sax and percussion and Robert Barry on drums.