"Through it all, this CD is one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I've had in a long time." Terence Blanchard (from liner notes)
"Jones closes with 'Sweeter than a Summer Breeze,' a tune that stands as an equal to the great classics on the CD like 'My One and Only Love.' The melody, like those standards, remains memorable, his trumpet sings with gorgeous flawlessness above the enriching string arrangements. 'Sweeter than a Summer Breeze' whispers beauty, romance and the gentle moods of jazz." Geraldine Wyckoff, LA Weekly, 2/9/09
SWEETER THAN A SUMMER BREEZE
Leroy Jones’ Lush New Album Features Romantic Ballads Perfect for the Times
During tough times there's nothing more important than love, relationships and romance – and New Orleans trumpet legend Leroy Jones has created the perfect soundtrack for the era with his latest release: "Sweeter Than A Summer Breeze".
Filled with lush strings and some of New Orleans' finest musicians, "Summer Breeze" shows Jones, the former trumpeter and vocalist in the Harry Connick Jr Orchestra, featuring the unparalleled beauty of his horn playing but also shows him in an entirely new light as a romantic balladeer and first rate arranger.
Arriving just in time for Valentine's Day, "Sweeter Than A Summer Breeze" features three new original compositions including the title song and "Katrina", Jones' take on the hurricane that caused so much devastation in his beloved hometown, plus eight other romantic standards like "In a Sentimental Mood", "My Funny Valentine" and "Stars Fell on Alabama".
"It feels like the right album for the times," says Jones, "an album for lovers and those looking to fall in love and that's something I think everybody can relate to in tough times like these."
While somewhat of a departure for Jones, who is widely regarded as one of the best and influential trumpeters Nola has ever produced and the keeper of the traditional New Orleans sounds, "Sweeter Than A Summer Breeze" showcases not just his virtuosity on the horn and his New Orleans roots, but his growing skills as an arranger including all strings, bass and drums.
And it's no accident that Jones is following in the footsteps of some of his favorite artists recording an album featuring strings.
"Clifford Brown, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis – some of the jazz pioneers I admire most – did the same thing, always pushing themselves as artists," he says. "And that’s just what I am doing with "Summer Breeze."
A member of the New Orleans Jazz Hall of Fame, Jones was leader at the tender age of 12, of the seminal Fairview Band, a brass band whose alumni have included some of the best-known musicians in New Orleans. It was the Fairview Brass Band that is widely credited with restoring interest in the brass band tradition of New Orleans. Today, in fact, New Orleans has more brass bands performing than at any time in the city's history – an achievement that can be traced back directly to the Fairview Band and its successor the Leroy Jones Hurricane Brass Brand.
A regular performer at Preservation Hall in New Orleans and a featured performer in the Harry Connick Jr Orchestra, where his playing and singing have made him a crowd favorite, Leroy has performed on every continent and in every major U.S. city at prestigious theaters, festivals and jazz clubs like the Village Vanguard in New York City. His television appearances include The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, Late Night with David Letterman, The Today Show, Arsenio Hall, Conan O'Brien and Oprah Winfrey. He is also a regular at the world famous New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, as well as French Quarter Fest and the Satchmo Summerfest.
He has also appeared on the soundtrack of the smash hit movie "Sleepless in Seattle" starring actor Tom Hanks.
Leroy has also released a series of highly regarded CDs including "Props For Pops" his tribute to Louis Armstrong, "Back To My Roots", "Mo’ Cream From The Crop" and "Soft Shoe". He has appeared on numerous recordings with other artists such as Dr. John, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Anders Osborne, Chuck Carbo, Spirit of New Orleans, John Boutté, Lillian Boutté, Paul Sanchez, Danish Radio Big Band, Guillaume Nouaux and many, more others.
Liner notes by Terence Blanchard:
To know Leroy Jones is to know a musician who has always been in search of finding a way to express himself with honesty that is very rare amongst musicians of his generation. I've known him for some years. In fact, he was my hero when we were growing up in New Orleans. He was the guy that was well ahead of his time. He played with a command and maturity that is still unmatched. When I listened to him play I always imagined myself having that tone, or his sense of phrasing, and definitely his sense of rhythm. He was and still is my hero.
This record brings Leroy into a new arena for me. I have always marveled at his playing, but now he has stepped into the world of writing for strings. I love this recording for what it brings to the world of music. An honest look at some classic compositions through the eyes of an artist who is still on the path of finding a way to bring to the listener what has always been in his heart. Leroy's approach to arranging these classics has the same heartfelt expression as his trumpet tone. This is a perfect combination of great craftsmanship and free willing expression. I've always known him to play in the moment, but this recording also puts a personal touch on the sound of the small ensemble. Many of these classics are tunes that have withstood the test of time, having been recorded by some of the greatest artist of our time. Now Leroy has added his name to the list.
Romance is the word that comes to mind when I listened to this music the first time. Starting the melody with no intro on "Yesterdays" gets to the heart of the matter without delay. A very clear and to the point solo. A beautiful tone, with a restrained romantic sense of phrasing sets the tone for the entire CD. What amazes me about "I Remember Clifford" is that I heard Leroy before I heard of Clifford Brown (that tells you how long I’ve known Leroy), and I thought that his tone was as clear as crystal and as big as anything I could imagine. So hearing him play this classic shows his love and respect for one of the greatest of all time. "My Funny Valentine", such a monumental melody, one that has been arranged in every way possible. Yet Leroy's string writing brings a freshness that sets the mood for listening bliss for lovers of melody. We all were devastated by the events of one of the worst disasters in our history, and yet "Katrina" shows the heroism that is rebuilding the city of New Orleans. I can't help thinking of all of the men and women who are giving their all to bring back a city and culture that has served the world for generations. Leroy captured it in a way that will serve us all and make the citizens of New Orleans proud.
This collection of music is a great combination of great playing and writing, a romantic journey through our musical history, and a brave look at some of our current events. Through it all, this CD is one of the most enjoyable listening experiences I've had in a long time. I have no doubt that this CD will become one of the few that will withstand the test of time. Leroy Jones, still my hero.