"Saxophonist Darius Jones has rung the changes on each of his widely acclaimed leadership dates. Book Of Mae'bul subverts expectations again with an all new quartet drawn from NYC's finest, who shift between intricate script and flowing invention in the blink of an eye." –John Sharpe, All About Jazz
"With fluid melodies, unhurried pacing and a heightened sense of emotion, Mae'bul elevates Jones's stature as both a player and composer." –Bryon Hayes, Exclaim!
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DOWNBEAT / EDITOR'S PICK
Book of Mæ’bul (Another Kind Of Sunrise) is the incredibly thoughtful, powerful conclusion to a trilogy of recordings by Darius Jones. That’s the easy way to describe it, but I’m sure not exactly accurate in the composer/alto saxophonist’s grand vision. So let’s elaborate. Mæ’bul is the third “verse” in Jones’ ongoing Man’ish Boy epic, which he considers to be the tone poem of his life. And this “verse” concludes the epic’s back story, the early years of his life—a story that began with Man’ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) from 2009 and continued with Big Gurl (Smell My Dream) in 2011. And that’s what I love about Darius Jones. He’s not just another young saxophonist out to blow the doors off the back of the club. He has a big, adventurous plan. He’s telling a story that’s long and involved, but gripping. Mæ’bul is a new character added to the epic. She is the embodiment of every woman he has ever loved. In creating her, Jones decided to use this recording to explore the sonics of beauty and love. It’s often messy business, but ultimately blissful, as can be experienced on the tune “You Have Me Seeing Red.” The song begins with a driving, repetitive vamp, almost like an argument where both sides keep repeating themselves. From there, you can almost envision the various stages of the argument, the attack, the inner anger, the weariness and, ultimately, some sort of grudging resolution. It’s intricately well-written and performed with Matt Mitchell on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass and Ches Smith on drums. Jones has just the right wailing tone on his alto—one part soothing, one part stabbing—and he knows just when to employ each. That’s the case on the entirety of this disc. It’s one of the best, most thought-out recordings I’ve heard this year, from the theme and the music to the packaging, which includes paintings created by graphic artist Randal Wilcox. It all adds up to one thing. I’ll enjoy Mæ’bul for a long time, and now I can’t wait to hear the next “verse” from Darius Jones.
–Frank Alkyer (publisher)
Mega-Interview in VILLAGE VOICE with Brad Cohan
"Each head provides a springboard for improvisations that balance abstraction and complexity with stunning rhythmic cohesion. .. this invigorating quartet date walks the line between exploration and accessibility that most musicians are afraid — or unable — to touch." –Marc Medwin, Dusted
"Although there's always a 21st century consciousness galvanizing his odes on love, truth and beauty, his sonic verses have, in their most alluring, lyrical passages, the afterglow of a 19th century romantic poet like John Keats, a verbal soloist who thought deeply and wrote enigmatically about beauty and truth."
–Owen McNally, Hartford Courant
[On the Quartet's performance at Vision Festival, 2012] : "The performance centered on a series of heart-rending ballads. Jones sounded as precise and openhearted as I've ever heard him. Every time I go see him, I'm struck by the care and gravity he puts into each phrase; even if the passage is a delicate one, he gears up, bears down, applies enormous psychic pressure. The notes have a vocal cry—smooth, yet with rasp always threatening to creep in around the edges, like peppered honey—but they're sculpted and purposeful. He's entered a new phase of maturity with this project. Its emotional spectrum is total."
–Hank Shteamer, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches
"4-Stars: Not only is Book of Mæ'bul another powerful addition to a body of work, but it shows his smarts as a bandleader .. with each new recording we're seeing another facet of a magnificently gifted musician."
–Peter Margasek, DownBeat
"The album, even at its most challenging, is suffused with an inviting warmth. [The compositions] add dimensions to Jones' composite portrait of a woman who, as depicted in Randal Wilcox's album art, needs four eyes and two mouths to fully process the world around her. Jones more than does her justice."
–Michael Roberts, Jazziz
"4-Stars: Jones' playing and composing may have some of the mercurial energy associated with the avant-garde but the communicative immediacy of African-American folk traditions stands like a bedrock in his work. Like all players that matter, Jones brings a lived-in, wizened quality to his performances, as if he knows something not just of black diasporan musical traditions but of the lives behind them."
–Kevin LeGendre, Jazzwise
“Jones’ playing is both searing and drenched in the gospel church, achingly delicate and bubbling with joy. He gets into areas that are almost impossible to describe, though the feeling is of a gentle roundness and liquid caress both incredibly pure and powerful."
–Clifford Allen, The New York City Jazz Record