I had been unaware of Darius Jones' work until a couple of months ago when I had the pleasure of hearing him with both Josh Berman's quartet and at the CJF aftersets at Constellation in Chicago. His vocabulary is unique and his energy unflagging. He has the information. This recording, with Cooper-Moore and Ra-Kalam Bob Moses propelling him, testifies to that.
Darius Jones: alto saxophone, compositions
Cooper-Moore: piano, diddley-bo
Rakalam Bob Moses: drums
"A phenomenal debut." –Troy Collins, All About Jazz
“Darius Jones has the capacity for a proud, rafters-raising tone on alto saxophone, and as an improviser he’s fearless but disciplined. Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) is a robustly accomplished debut that confirms not only the blunt fact of his arrival but also the ceaseless vitality of his chosen tradition."
–Nate Chinen, The New York Times
“Brimming with intricacy and raw, soulful invention. On the achingly beautiful ballads time seems to be suspended while the three musicians breath slowly as one.” –Marc Medwin, Signal To Noise
“With expressive glissandi as opulently sensual as that of Johnny Hodges, and a knack for flipping innocent melodic utterances into lines fraught with chancy harmonic and rhythmic ambiguities, Jones’s concept is proudly his own.” –Philip Clark, The Wire
"On Man’ish Boy, alto saxophonist Darius Jones delivers one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory, displaying a remarkably well-developed concept and individual sound. Jones has a big, fleshy, lived-in tone, with a vibrato that owes as much to Johnny Hodges as it does to Albert Ayler. It’s defiant, vulnerable, proud, and weary; there is laughter and sobbing in it. He imbues simple melodies and phrases with huge emotional weight. Amazingly, there’s little sense of two veterans supporting a younger, less experienced player. They sound like a trio of peers, which bodes well for this exciting new voice.
–Ed Hazell, Point of Departure
"[Darius has got] a head full of ideas and a heart full of talent. He never wastes a note or a breath." –Steve Greenlee, JazzTimes
“Darius Jones erupted out of the gates with wide vibrato and a curious sense of sadness and wonder aimed at the world. Mani'sh Boy shines with a pathos and grit that recalls ’70s loft jazz, along with a surprising sense of empathy. Only an authentic motherfucker could get Cooper-Moore and Bob Moses to back him up on a debut record." –Scott McDowell-Love,Gloom,Cash,Love: Top 10+ of 2009
"A strong, passionate, soulful representation of the vicissitudes of life transpires from every minute of this first album by alto saxophonist Darius Jones. Flanked by masters Cooper-Moore and Rakalam Bob Moses, Jones achieves the difficult aim of presenting a self-portrait which is at one and the same time visceral and fragile, and – in essence – achingly beautiful." –Touching Extremes
Best Jazz Albums of 2009
Best Debut Album of 2009, #2
–Village Voice Jazz Critic Poll
Favorite debut records of 2009
Best uses of unconventional instruments 2009:
–NPR / A Blog Supreme
Best Debut Release of 2009
-All About Jazz-New York
Top 10 Jazz albums of 2009
Darius Jones is an extraordinarily gifted alto saxophonist, composer, improvisor and bandleader; soul-power is at his foundation; forward looking expression always at the fore. Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) was his debut as a leader – a deeply personal work that found Jones meditating on his life growing up in the south: not an easy life, but one suffused with familial love, hard work and self-assurance.
His experiences in church, particularly hearing gospel choirs – the ecstatic combination of powerful individual voices coming together to create something greater – were a deep inspiration toward this album. An abiding respect for elders and the breadth of life experience they bring led Jones to ask master musicians Cooper-Moore (piano, diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums) to be part of this project. Herein: ballads of deeply affecting tenderness; an intense poly-rhythmic excursion that literally does chase the ghost in holiness fashion; a series of open-ended pieces that further display the remarkable improvisational gifts of the three musicians, and more.
* The album's bonus track, Chaych!, is performed by Darius' working trio at the time, featuring Adam Lane: bass and Jason Nazary: drums. This track is one of those that make clear the connection between juke joints and churches of the American south.
Produced by Darius Jones & Steven Joerg
Recorded by Michael Marciano on April 27, 2009
at Systems Two Studio, Brooklyn
Masterfully mixed with & mastered by Michael Marciano at STS
Cover artwork by Randal Wilcox