A standout from today’s mailbag -- but, um, not for the best of reasons. Rodney Jones is a sharp and versatile guitarist, equally comfortable with backbeat funk and quantum-level postbop. Some years ago, when I was still permitted to do such things, I wrote liner notes for one of his albums. This cover illustration does him no particular favors, though. I’m trying to decide whether it looks more like something you’d airbrush on the side of your van or something you’d see framed on the wall of a psychic readings parlor.
And it’s too bad, because my cursory exposure to this album -- it’s playing as I type -- suggests smarter and less sentimental associations. The band includes Donald Harrison on alto saxophone, Michael Kanan on piano, Lonnie Plaxico on bass and Carl Allen on drums. They open with “Barney’s Blues,” a respectably gritty shuffle. They play songs by Oliver Nelson, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. True, there are some Quiet Storm moments, but they aren’t objectionable. The title track, played on acoustic guitar, has a perfectly fine, simple melody, as these things go. (It releases next month. 18th & Vine has more details.)
But ouch, that cover image. Note to Mr. Jones: I know that matters of the spirit are important in your worldview. “Each time we step out in search of a greater truth,” you write on the front page of your website, “we are transformed by the intention that is awakened within our hearts.” Please, though, take a different graphic tack next time. And no, that doesn’t mean dolphins. Much as I love dolphins.