Jones jams jumping jazz, sizzling soul
The sounds of renowned jazz/soul guitarist Rodney Jones will fill SUNY Oswego’s Waterman Theatre at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13.
The performance by Rodney Jones and Co. at the lakeside campus will follow the daylong Jazz Guitar Festival, which offers concerts, classes and workshops for all levels of players.
Hailed by acclaimed musician George Benson as “a legend among musicians, especially guitar players” and “truly worthy of the ears of any music lover,” Jones tours in support of his latest disc “Soul Manifesto Live,” which blends soul, funk and African rhythms.
The term “Soul Manifesto” touches on two meanings of the word “soul,” Jones explained. “There’s soul music that makes for an organic human experience, and there’s soul on the spiritual level—the soul that transcends the body and survives death,” he said. “This album serves to bridge those two meanings, to show that there is a unity, that the two elements flow seamlessly one to the other and enable each other. You have soul that was created by God, and you have soul created by James Brown. I’ve always been fascinated by that connection.”
Jones began playing guitar at age 6, starting formal lessons at 8. His musical upbringing included spirituals he heard in his church as a boy, Nashville rhythm-and-blues groups and such pop acts as the Beatles, Sly Stone and especially James Brown. He had learned all of the guitar parts in Brown’s tunes by age 14 and soon joined a groove band.
While studying at the City College of New York, he began delving into jazz, learning from John Lewis and linking up with pianist Jaki Byard, a former protegee of Charles Mingus. Jones would tour for three years with Dizzy Gillespie and serve as an accompanist for Lena Horne.
But Jones would link back to James Brown, through the soul man’s horn players Maceo Parker, Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis. Now a faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music, Jones was recommended for Parker’s disc “Roots Revisited” by one of his students, Parker’s nephew. “Playing with these guys who were my heroes turned out to be an out-of-the body experience,” Jones said of recording that album. “It was the realization of a dream from many years ago.”
Jones has since emerged into a recording artist in his own right with two albums on Blue Note Records, “The Undiscovered Few” and “Soul Manifesto,” and seven full-length releases overall.
For the daylong Jazz Guitar Festival, cost of early-bird registration (by Oct. 30) is $45 for adults, $25 for students and $10 for SUNY Oswego students. After Oct. 30, registration costs will rise to $55 for adults, $35 for students and $15 for SUNY Oswego students.
The Jazz Guitar Festival is made possible in part by support from the House of Guitars in Rochester, ClearChannel Radio and WAER Jazz 88.
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(Posted: Oct 20, 2004)