Brian Jones Guitar Quartet: Freshen Up

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Brian Jones is a masterfully shredding kit drummer from Richmond, Virginia. In a world filled with Brian Jones, this Richmond drum maestro is a man of note. He runs his own CD-R label, Slang Sanctuary, which documents his dozen or so, musical projects: numerous eponymous duos, trios, quartets, Boots of Leather (who do VU covers as out jazz) and Them Against Them. Jones' projects seem to give a nod to John Zorn's approach, minus the Yiddish flavors. (It's more something in the attitude) There's something in Richmond that encourages amazing jazz drummers.

Words and Live Recording by Matthew Clark

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  Brian Jones Guitar Quartet - live at the Tea Bazaar (53.5 MiB, 1,449 hits)

Zorn's own secret weapon, Joey Baron, is also a Richmond native, and a total modern jazz-drumming wizard. On July 25th 2007 Jones brought his Guitar Quartet to the Tea Bazaar for a night of chronic modern jazz. The group featured two electric guitars, upright bass, and Jones on trap kit. Joining Jones for the set were guitarists, Trey Pollard and Alan Parker, and upright bassist Matt Hall. The set ranged from Jones own compositions to a loose interpretation of "Eleanor Rigby". The feel was always free, with drums leading the way and triggering cues for direction. The drumming swayed between abstract and groove, yet always managed to elucidate the situation completely, guiding his stringed crusaders into wild and unruly territory. This throw down was heavy and heady, like a jungle safari adventure fever dream, with a head full of malaria meds. Take heed.

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Modern jazz, comes with a heavy dose of skepticism from jaded audiences. The potential for cliches associated with the genre are an ominous shadow, from which true players must shine through to express their merit. The Guitar Quartet took all of 30 seconds to destroy all naysaying. They displayed the art of shredding, which walks a fine line with the art of wanking. The line was drawn clearly

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and shredding it surely was. Jones unique battery skills, leave jaws dropped and minds blown. His compatriots are always on par with his level of skill, in what ever group he presents or participates in. The two wailing guitars carefully avoided filling the same register while, naturally coming unhinged and being fully lost in the music. One guitarist would often create ambiance with swells and slides, whilst the other would play a lead role with more annunciated notes, sometimes sparse and other times frantic. The bass grooves were spot on, solid, thunderous and robust. Matt Hall would sometimes employ his bow, even if only for 5 seconds then switching back to plucking away, to evoke the right tones.

As with all styles of music, there is the good the bad, the talented and the hacks, the innovators and the recyclers, the shredders and the wankers. I expect that the Slang Sanctuary family, involving dozens of musicians from the Richmond jazz, noise, free, out and avant scenes all have multiple projects worthy of exploration. As improv music seems to be making a huge resurgence in the rock and folk realms, let us not forget the bedrock of improvisation, and one of the most valid "American" cultural contributions, "jazz music". Brian Jones and Co. show how fresh it can be.

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