3’s A Crowd
Billy Jones’s new release is an exciting series of jazz duo’s. Each track places Billy’s expressive drumming in dialogue with a different instrumental voice. This dialogue elevated the drums from their traditional role of accompanist to explore their full musical potential.
- 3’s A Crowd (feat. George Young on alto saxophone)
- Song For Meg (feat. Tony Micelli on vibraphone)
- The Call (feat. John Vanore on trumpet)
- John Cage Scared My Dog (feat. Mick Rossi on piano)
- For John And Elvin (feat. Gary Meek on tenor saxophone)
- Just Above The Clouds (feat. Kenny Stahl on flute)
- Gone Now (feat. Tyrone Brown on bass)
- A Monotony Of Hazards (feat. Stu Reynolds on bass clarinet)
- Chant Of The Soul (feat. Scotty Wright on vocal)
- Ellie’s Dream (feat. George Genna on piano)
American drummer Billy JONES has an enviabl card.
Brother of great names in music such as Sammy Davis Jr, Bill Crosby, Michel Legrand, he has also been associated with musicals like Grease with of the best jamming artists. He is also present on television and radio with his company Sight and Sound Creative Productions that he created with the pianist Pat SPINO to put on commercials.
He offers us a CD of ten tracks, surrounded by George YOUNG and Gary MEEK on saxophones, John VANORE on trumpet, Mick ROSSI and George GENNA on piano, Tony MICELLI on vibraphone, Kenny STAHL on flute and Stu REYNOLDS on the clarinet.
The album is designed to foster a permanent dialogue between the drums and other instruments. The battery so often used as accompanist finds a privileged place and it is often the other instruments that support it.
This reversal of roles could lead to fear of a spill of big sounds but it is not so. On the contrary, Billy JONES plays in finesse with a light, precise fingering. Super sweet atmosphere, your felted for a classic and refined jazz. Each composition is a lesson of delicacy.
Song for Meg with a cosmic vibraphone, Just Above the Clouds with an expressive flute that transmits a host of emotions. Even the saxophone is in unison, The Call, and when it forces a little it is suspected to remain well below its possibilities.
The piano improvising on John Cage Scared My Dog gives a classic side to a more adventurous piece. MEEK’s saxophone on John and Elvin, in improvisation too, installs a dialogue with the drums that knows how to follow him, anticipate him, encourage him without ever choking him.
Less melodic and yet equally jazzy, Gone Now and A Monotony of Hazards which are two superb demonstrations of the color scheme of a drums and / or saxophone. Chant Of The Soul is organized around the beautiful singing of WRIGHT. No need for speech, one voice is enough.
To conclude, Ellie’s Dream with the piano George GENNA, in the general tone of the rest of the album.
Another facet of jazz, technical, elegant, sought after. One of the good discoveries of this year.
Here we have an album that is one of those incredibly rare things,
namely one which has been directed and driven by a drummer. In addition, it is also actually an album of duets – ten songs, ten musicians, but each musician is involved in only one number. Billy says in the booklet that he has been conceptualizing the album for years, placing “the drums in constant dialogue with one other instrumentalist” and being able to “raise the drums from its traditional role of accompaniment, to that of partner to that other voice”. Perhaps not unsurprisingly I found myself thinking of Bill Bruford while listening to this album, but it was more of the stories told within his memoirs than that of the music, of the travails and tribulations of the working jazz drummer.
Only one of the songs contains vocals, where “Chant of the Soul” contains a singer as the other musician (this is one of the numbers that are totally improvised, just four on the album in total). Some of the songs work better than others, and a great example is Mick Rossi and his piano on “John Cage Scared My Dog” where he is in perfect harmony as they experiment and follow each other. Another highlight is “Song For Meg” where Tony Micelli’s vibraphone hits all the right notes. In many ways quite a simple album, it is also complex, and is something that any jazz lover will get a great deal out of.