Darius Jones is an extraordinarily gifted young alto saxophonist and composer. He joined the New York music community in 2005, after living and studying in Richmond, VA. During his short time in New York he has amazed and inspired musicians and audiences from widely divergent backgrounds with his meticulously honed musical gifts. Soul-power is at his foundation; forward-looking expression always at the core.
Darius was signed to AUM Fidelity records in February of 2009 and released his highly acclaimed debut album as a leader, Man'ish Boy (A Raw and Beautiful Thing), in October of that year. The record features his trio with Rakalam Bob Moses and Cooper-Moore, and reflects his early childhood growing up in the South. The album was a clear favorite in the media, garnering overwhelming praise from the New York Times, Jazz Times, All About Jazz, Time Out New York, the Boston Globe, Pop Dose, Signal to Noise, The Wire, Paris Transatlantic, The Village Voice, and others.
In Fall of 2011, Darius revealed the next volume and character of his ongoing Man'ish Boy Epic with the album, Big Gurl (Smell My Dream). Big Gurl moves the story forward and takes inspiration from his years of study, experimentation and self-discovery at university in Richmond where he began the search for his own voice. A scintillating jazz saxophone trio love letter to underground hip-hop, soul, gospel, jazz, blues, rock and all things funky, Big Gurl features bassist Adam Lane and drummer Jason Nazary.
Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) is the magical third character in Jones’ Man’ish Boy Epic. It is his first quartet release, out in April 2012, and once again features a stunning new book of compositions written specifically for the project. The band consists of highly talented generational peers including Matt Mitchell, Trevor Dunn and Ches Smith. Love and Beauty map the exquisitely detailed yet fluid movement of the music. Mæ'bul is an attempt at creating a totem to represent Jones' spiritual pursuit of these two elements in sound.
Darius graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Bachelors in Jazz Studies in 2003, earning a Master's Degree in Jazz Performance/Composition from New York University in 2008. He also taught New Music Improvisation there for a year as an adjunct professor. Darius comes from a diverse musical background, which lead to his unique and soulful approach to music. His repertoire includes compositions and performances in electro-acoustic music, chamber ensembles, contemporary and avant-garde jazz groups, modern dance performances, and multi-media events.
Since his arrival to New York in 2005, Darius has developed two very important collaborative projects: The first with pianist and composer, Matthew Shipp. The second is with the collective, Little Women. Shipp and Jones documented their collaboration with Cosmic Lieder, released on AUM Fidelity in 2011. Cosmic Lieder, an exquisite and expansive 13-part song-cycle, is a deeply emotional and illuminated narrative by two highly attuned and intelligent musical voices. Little Women is a band that explores the extremes of sound by using extended techniques and acoustic manipulation. In 2010 Little Women released their first full-length record, Throat, also on AUM Fidelity.
Darius has collaborated with other artists including Gerald Cleaver's Black Host, Oliver Lake Big Band, William Parker's Essence of Ellington, Mara Rosenbloom Quartet, Trevor Dunn's Proof Readers, Ben Gerstein, Jason Stein, Fred Ho, Ed Schuller, Weasel Walters, Michael Formanek, Bobby Previte, Andrew Cyrille, Angelica Sanchez, Lafayette Gilchrist, Beans, Steve Swell, Chad Taylor, Sean Conly, Alex Harding, Francisco Mora Catlett, and many more.
Darius was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship by Roulette in 2008, which he used to launch his chamber ensemble, Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, a project dedicated to new works for voice. Darius was a two-time nominee for Up and Coming Artist in 2009 and 2010 from the Jazz Journalists Association, and was one of Jazz Times' Debut Artists of the Year for 2009. Jones was featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. In 2012 he was featured in DownBeat and on WBGO's, The Checkout.
In 2012, Jones produced the latest record for Korean artist, Sunny Kim, entitled Painter's Eye, on Sunnyside Records.
"4-Stars. Today, he demonstrates that his musical persona will not be easily pigeonholed." –DOWNBEAT, Alain Drouot
"Equally earthy and avant-garde .. intellectually stimulating [though] anything but academic .. Jones can keen, weep, caress–and cut, too. The appealing unruliness to his music coexists with authority." –JAZZTIMES, Carlo Wolff
“Soul Power is Jones's apt summation of his extraordinary interpretations and titanic, trail-blazing originality.”
–THE AUSTRALIAN, John McBeath
“An alto saxophone player whose sound drips with passion .. Jones has a talent for penning intensely emotional themes, which provide a fertile launching pad for his vibrato-laden alto preaching. .. the valedictory, elegiac "Forgive Me" sounds like a newly found spiritual, with some of most beautiful sounds ever committed to disc.”
–ALL ABOUT JAZZ, John Sharpe
"Jones continually proves himself to be a saxophonist with a fresh new voice and the skill to take that sound any place he likes." –THE NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD, Wilbur McKenzi
"One of the hottest American saxophone newcomers of recent times with a trio that shares that quality."
–John Fordham, BBC-Jazz on 3
“..with expressive glissandi as opulently sensual as that of Johnny Hodges, and a knack for flipping innocent melodic utterances into lines fraught with chancy harmonic and rhythmic ambiguities, Jones’s concept is proudly his own. This record poses big questions about the relationship between the African-American tradition of spirituals, blues and gospel, and now.”
–THE WIRE, Philip Clark