Paul Jones - Clean

Label/Year: Outside in Music, 2017

Lineup – Paul Jones: tenor saxophone; Alex LoRe: alto saxophone; Matt Davis: guitar; Glenn Zaleski: piano; Johannes Felscher: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums.


Paul Jones, an emergent tenor saxophonist based in New York, exhibits higher levels of maturity and a willingness for originality in his incredible new album, Clean, a considerable step ahead since the release of his full-length debut album, Short Stories, recorded in 2014 with his reliable sextet. The band members are maintained here with the exception of pianist Sullivan Fortner, who gave its place to Glenn Zaleski. The remaining artists, all young and powerfully talented, are Alex LoRe on alto saxophone, Matt Davis on guitar, Johannes Felscher on bass, and Jimmy Macbride on drums.

Some tunes feature a group of woodwind players that plump for a classical chamber tone rather than a jazz-oriented drive. The admitted influence of classical minimalists like Phillip Glass and Steve Reich are noticeable in these short-lived pieces: “Ive Sn Th Gra Md”,“Romulo's Raga”, “Im Prety Uch Fkd", and “The Minutiae Of Existence”, in which we can hear cello, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, and extra saxophones that often embark on circular breathing techniques, unisons, and well-driven counterpoint. On “Alphabet Soup”, for instance, Jones’ tenor surfs on top of the motivic, danceable waves created by Nanci Belmont’s bassoon and Susan Mandel’s cello. Those involved then change positions, effortlessly readapting to the new setting.

The title track brings the saxophones to the forefront, exerting cyclic behaviors intercalated with Davis’ melodic guitar. Improvisations by Jones and Zaleski occur on the surface of a static groundwork.

Immersed in post-bop shimmer, the catchy “The Generator” and the leisurely-paced “Dirty Curty” become intensely perceptive in their musical transparency. If on the former, one is able to relax at the sound of the introspective guitar and then perk up with the sinuous phrasing of the saxophone, on the latter piece, we find unison melodies in the head and iridescent improvisations, with special focus on the fantastic piano work developed by Zaleski who surprises with polyrhythm in his clever interspersion of chords and melodic phrases.

The bandleader not only delivers his best solo on “Centre In The Woods”, a lucid, wispy, and dramatic enchantment, but also unveils his aptitude for luminous songcraft. Despite the harmonic humbleness, the tune goes directly to your heart and senses through the elasticity of Jones’ language and the control of Macbride’s gentle snare drumming. The drummer gains preponderance once again in the minimalistic “Trio”, a beautiful poem that easily and softly invades the space around us.

Moving in different stratospheres, “I Am An American” carries a more familiar jazz signature as it mildly swings, while “Hola, Amigo” sprinkles a hip-hop flavor in the air and boasts exhilarating solos from tenor and guitar.

Combining the thrillingly emotional with the astonishingly lyric, this impressive body of work feels like a balmy elixir in today’s jazz. Paul Jones is not just the revelation, but also the revolutionary musician of the year.

         Grade  A

         Grade A

Favorite Tracks:
03 - Alphabet Soup ► 04 – The Generator ► 06 - Centre In The Woods