Darius Jones is an extraordinarily gifted alto saxophonist and composer. He joined the New York music community in 2005, after living and studying in Richmond, VA. During his 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. Released in April 2012, it once again features a stunning 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, 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, with a follow-up, Lung, released in 2013, both 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, Eric Revis Quartet, Trevor Dunn's Proof Readers, Nasheet Waits "Equality" Quartet, Bill McHenry, Elliott Sharp, James Carter, Jason Moran, Andrew Cyrille, Ryan Sawyer, Angelica Sanchez, Yo La Tengo, Beans, Brandford Marsalis, Chad Taylor, Sean Conly, Alex Harding, Sun Ra Arkestra, Shazhad Ismaily, Aruan Ortiz, Fay Victor, and many more.
To date, Darius has performed at a number of festivals and clubs, including Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Jazz Gallery, Earshot Jazz Festival, Guelph Jazz Festival, Suoni Per II Popolo Festival, Vision Festival, Firehouse 12, Bohemian Caverns, DC Jazz Festival, Umbrella Music Festival, Jazz Festival Saalfelden, Jazz Em Agosto Festival, 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. Currently the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit has been rehearsing a large work composed by Darius for four female a cappella voices, called the OverSoul Manual. The text for this work is a language that Darius created specifically for this ensemble. The OverSoul Manual will be premiered at Roulette in March of 2014. It will also be debuted at Carnegie Hall in October 0f 2014.
Darius was a two-time nominee for Up and Coming Artist in 2010 and 2011, and nominated for Alto Saxophonist of the Year in 2013 by the Jazz Journalists Association. Darius was one of Jazz Times' Debut Artists of the Year for 2009. In 2013 Darius was awarded the French-American Jazz Exchange Grant for a collaboration with French vocalist Emilie Lesbros.
Of note, Jones was featured in the Wall Street Journal and BBC's Jazz on 3 in 2011. In 2012 he was featured in the New York City Jazz Record, JazzTimes.com, the Village Voice Blog, DownBeat, and on WBGO's The Checkout. Darius was featured on the cover of Portuguese magazine, Jazz.pt in 2012, and on the cover of Italian magazine, Jazz Colours, in 2013.
Darius' 2012 release, Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) was listed among NPR's Best Top 10 Jazz Albums of that year.
"4-Stars. Today, he demonstrates that his musical persona will not be easily pigeonholed."
-DOWNBEAT, Alain Drouot
"...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
"4-Stars: Jones' playing and composing may have some of the mercurial energy associated with the avant-garde but the communicative immediacy of African-American folk traditions stands like a bedrock in his work. Like all players that matter, Jones brings a lived-in, wizened quality to his performances, as if he knows something not just of black diasporan musical traditions but of the lives behind them."
–Kevin LeGendre, Jazzwise
"Darius Jones has the capacity for a proud, rafters-raising tone on alto saxophone, and as an improviser he's fearless but disciplined. Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) is a robustly accomplished debut that confirms not only the blunt fact of his arrival but also the ceaseless vitality of his chosen tradition. Akeen awareness of that tradition underpins the album, for reasons of spirit and style. Mr. Jones, who is in his early 30s, wisely teamed up with a pair of sympathetic mentors .. Their interaction is open-hearted and intense .. it adds up to a powerfully soulful blend."
-THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nate Chinen