Rodney Jones

Live at Smoke
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There are more than a few sophisticated jazz guitarists on the scene today. Only a handful of them, however, truly have the gift of groove. To put it another way, it is a special guitarist who can please bandleaders as varied as bebop godfather Dizzy Gillespie and funk kingpin Maceo Parker—just two of the many legends sideman par excellence Rodney Jones has accompanied over the years. Jones’ pocket is so deep and his tone so pure, his notes—even when delivered in flurries of thirty-seconds or time-morphing rubato cadenzas—always hit you squarely in the chest. Here, on his first ever solo DVD, the New York guitarist—backed by organist Brian Charette, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and drummer Ray Marchica—delivers straight-ahead jazz that really packs a wallop (not to mention a solid left hook of funk and R&B).

What really makes Jones a “guitar player’s guitar player,” however, is that his deep pockets are bulging with stunning harmonic intricacies. Jones, who’s also an instructor at the Manhattan School of Music, weaves in and out of parallel tonalities,generating wonderful avalanches of chordal cascades that would make Joe Pass smile. And, on the single-note side of things, Jones’ melodies are evocative of the best lines you ever heard from Wes Montgomery, Billy Butler, and George Benson. Whether delivered on greasy shuffles, bright bossas, or smoky ballads (or even on steel-string acoustic), Jones’ riffing stays fresh for the full duration of this nearly two-and-a-half hour performance. No matter what your background—jazz, metal, blues, hip hop—you’ll find it extremely difficult not to enjoy this vibrant set from one the most versatile and tasteful guitarists in the country. (Mel Bay Records).