Saturday, October 22, 2022

Jones Jones - Just Justice (ESP-Disk’, 2022)

By Lee Rice Epstein

Following several albums of exceptional live performances, Jones Jones—the improvising trio of Larry Ochs, Mark Dresser, and Vladimir Tarasov—has landed at ESP-Disk’ for their first studio album. Losing none of the wit, fire and creativity that defined their previous three albums, Just Justice continues the trio’s gradually tightened focus.

 A founding member of ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Ochs has been on the cutting edge for over four decades, and yet he’s rarely sounded better than he has in recent years. Tarasov is an incredible drummer, lesser known in the States perhaps, and also a really interesting visual artist. Dresser (the baby of the group at just 70 years old), is easily one of the most accomplished, creative bass players in improvised music. All three are so versatile, each one often creates sounds that could easily be attributed to another member of the group.

 The relatively brief “Articulating Jones” works as a preface for the album, which really kicks into gear with the incredible “Bali Hai Jones.” Like the later “Jones In the Sonar System,” “Bali Hai Jones” showcases Ochs, Dresser, and Tarasov drawing out every possibly wry, artful sound from their instruments. “Call of the Jones” highlights the trio’s grittier side, as Och’s snarls over Tarasov’s clanging cymbal work. Recorded at UC San Diego by Andrew Munsey, and later mixed by Munsey, Ochs, and Dresser, the latter’s bass has rarely sounded this beautiful. Likewise Tarasov, who punctuates with a delicate, painterly touch (no surprise, he’s also a visual artist). On “The Further Adventures of Miss Microtonal Jones,” it’s clear how Munsey, also a drummer, brings a welcome depth to the recording, giving Tarasov’s playing ample room to breathe and be heard. Ochs’s sopranino shines here, a patient, if slightly urgent, voice that rides just high enough in the mix to blossom towards the latter half. The previous session, A Jones In Time Saves Nine, runs a close second, but use of the studio for Just Justice gives Ochs, Dresser, and Tarasov that bit of extra room to try some daring new exchanges; the gambit pays off handsomely.

Available on Bandcamp

Direct from Ochs

Direct from ESP-Disk’

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