May 23, 2024

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CD review: Willie Jones III – Fallen Heroes 2021: Video, CD cover

Fallen Heroes, the stirring new album from drummer Willie Jones III, honors the sterling musicians we have lost in recent years — with a particular focus on several that touched his life directly.

Fallen Heroes, the stirring new album from drummer Willie Jones III, honors the sterling musicians we have lost in recent years — with a particular focus on several that touched his life directly. First among them is trumpeter Roy Hargrove, whose ballad “Trust” receives a tender interpretation featuring Renée Neufville on vocals. The album also honors saxophonist Jimmy Heath and pianist Larry Willis, along with drummer Ndugu Chancler, by way of a solo drum piece, “Something For Ndugu.”

The closing track is a barn-burning Jones original, “Jackin’ For Changes” — its title a nod to Ice Cube’s groundbreaking 1990 track “Jackin’ For Beats.” Opening with a drum invocation that establishes an uptempo swing, the tune breathes first with Jones’ rhythm team, consisting of pianist Isaiah Thompson and bassist Gerald Cannon. (At other points on the album, the pianist is George Cables.) Justin Robinson’s lunging solo on alto saxophone leads into Jeremy Pelt’s boppish turn on trumpet, before Jones’ expressionistic drum essay takes it out.

“Everybody is hoping for change: the struggle for equality, to survive the pandemic, or get closer to normalcy,” Jones says in a press statement. “I’m a believer in making the change yourself, take control of what’s around you — your community, the finances around your community, your culture. However you do it, be the vehicle of that change.”

First among them is trumpeter Roy Hargrove, whose ballad “Trust” receives a tender interpretation featuring Renée Neufville on vocals. The album also honors saxophonist Jimmy Heath and pianist Larry Willis, along with drummer Ndugu Chancler, by way of a solo drum piece, “Something For Ndugu.”

The closing track is a barn-burning Jones original, “Jackin’ For Changes” — its title a nod to Ice Cube’s groundbreaking 1990 track “Jackin’ For Beats.” Opening with a drum invocation that establishes an uptempo swing, the tune breathes first with Jones’ rhythm team, consisting of pianist Isaiah Thompson and bassist Gerald Cannon. (At other points on the album, the pianist is George Cables.) Justin Robinson’s lunging solo on alto saxophone leads into Jeremy Pelt’s boppish turn on trumpet, before Jones’ expressionistic drum essay takes it out.

“Everybody is hoping for change: the struggle for equality, to survive the pandemic, or get closer to normalcy,” Jones says in a press statement. “I’m a believer in making the change yourself, take control of what’s around you — your community, the finances around your community, your culture. However you do it, be the vehicle of that change.”

01 Something for Ndugu 03:58
02 Fallen Hero 03:39
03 C.T.A. 04:43
04 Trust 03:56
05 Truthful Blues 06:20
06 Annika’s Lullaby 08:37
07 To Wisdom, the Prize 06:06
08 I’ve Just Seen Her 07:01
09 Jackin’ for Changes 05:20

Willie Jones III drums; Jeremy Pelt trumpet; Sherman Irby alto saxophone; George Cables piano; Gerald Cannon bass,Steve Davis trombone (6); Justin Robinson alto saxophone (9); Isaiah Thompson piano (9); Renee Neufville vocals (4).

Fallen Heroes by Willie Jones III on Amazon Music - Amazon.com

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