Steppin' Down Front


In the 1950s, like so many musicians from the American Midwest, Sam Jones relocated to NYC. Pairing a visceral, muscular feeling with his impeccable sense of time, the bassist settled into the foundation of groups led by Cannonball Adderley, Dizzy Gillespie, even Thelonious Monk. Right Down Front (2003, OJC) puts together highlights from three albums that Jones recorded for Riverside Records in New York between 1960 - '62 in the company of such stellar players as Cannonball and his brother Nat, pianists Bobby Timmons and Wynton Kelly, trumpeters Blue Mitchell and Clark Terry, and others.

Jones' bass sound is prominently featured right down front. He swings Benny Golson's "Blues On Down" lowdown and easy like Basie gone greasy, and smears his solo through the rare Charlie Parker tune "Blue Bird" like sticky blue jam. This set closes with the pensive, dark melody "'Round Midnight," which proves a great vehicle for Jones' sinewy, piercing solo bass sound.

Jones eventually replaced the irrepressible Ray Brown in the Oscar Peterson Trio. He was also the bassist on Everybody Digs Bill Evans (Riverside, '58) and Blue Mitchell's Blue Soul (Riverside, '59), both part of the Keepnews Collection, and numerous other essential bop and mainstream jazz recordings. The standalone titles that comprise this collection are available, too: The Soul Society, Jones' 1960 debut as a leader (OJC, 1992); his follow-up The Chant (OJC, '94) by Sam Jones Plus 10; and Down Home (OJC, '95) by Sam Jones & Co.