Front & Center


Throughout a three-decade career that spanned the 1950s, '60s and '70s, bassist and cellist Sam Jones was known as a solid and reliable sideman for some of the most prominent figures in jazz during the period, including Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Dorham, Illinois Jacquet, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and many others. Right Down Front is a collection of 11 tracks culled from the three albums -- The Soul Society, The Chant and Down Home -- that he recorded on Riverside between 1960 and 1962, during his tenure with Adderley's group.

His session work during this brief period is widely considered to be his best, thanks to a combination of his own innate capacity to swing and the stellar lineup of collaborators who brought out the best in him.

The personnel roster on these tracks include Adderley and on alto sax, Nat Adderley on cornet, Jimmy Heath on tenor, Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Victor Feldman on vibraphone, Ron Carter on bass and Ben Riley on drums. The full complement of pianists includes Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons and Joe Zawinul.

Jones plays cello on five of the 11 tracks, but it's generally the bass songs that come across most effectively, including the shimmering "Over The Rainbow," the fully orchestrated rendition of Miles Davis' "Four," and the swinging "Unit Seven," the only Jones original in the set. He does enjoy a shining moment on cello in the form of a rich and warm rendition of "Round Midnight."

Sam Jones's talent as a musician and composer was (and still is) often obscured by his status as a freelancer throughout most of his career. Right Down Front positions him exactly where the title suggests, in a prominent place where he finally gets his due.