The name Sam Jones might not spark instant recognition among modern jazz fans, but his countless all-star associations will. Best known for his work with Cannonball Adderley from 1959-65, the influential bassist and composer’s resume also features a long stint with Oscar Peterson (1966-70) and dates with Freddie Hubbard, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Farmer, Red Garland and Thelonious Monk.
Jones penned the enduring standards “Del Sasser” and “Unit 7” while with Adderley, and those fiery hard swinging cookers are perhaps the most enticing entry points for The Tnek Jazz Quintet’s deeply groove intensive (with the exception of the tender ballad “Lillie”) tribute titled “Plays the Music of Sam Jones.”
Beyond the tight, propulsive rhythms of Kent Miller (bass) and Greg Holloway (drums), these and other key tracks on the high spirited, expansively arranged 7-track set showcase the intricate and buoyant lead horn lines Jones specialized in via the passions of two excellent saxmen, Antonio Parker (alto) and Benny Russell (tenor and soprano). Another prominent rhythmic and melodic component is the feisty, freewheeling and highly improvisational piano pounding of Darius Scott – whose jam midway through “Bittersuite” (followed by Miller’s plucky solo and Holloway’s drum fills) just may get you jumpin’ out of your seat and screaming “More!”
From the anagram in the group’s name, it would seem that veteran bassist Kent Miller is the leader of the ensemble, but producer Ron Kearns’ insightful liner notes (which include solid bios on each storied member) imply that while the project was Miller’s idea, the assembly may be just a one-shot deal. Here’s hoping not, and that they find other unsung greats to pay homage to in the future.