Music Review: Clean

by Paul JonesOutside in Music
reviewed by John Malkin
Clean album cover

Paul Jones is an accomplished jazz saxophonist, and for his second album—Clean—he’s courageously combined elements of two other diverse musical realms: classical minimalism and hip-hop. Jones cites as major influences Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Kendrick Lamar, and the result is an exciting blend of compelling rhythms and bold tenor sax solos.

This eclectic album is also inspired by mathematics, literature, and personal experiences of loss. Many of the song titles on Clean come from inspirational books, with the words being turned upside down and jazzified.

“One problem I constantly face is what to call a piece of music that I’ve written,” Jones told S&H. “Usually the titles are completely unrelated to the music and the forced meaning is less impactful. So I decided to name the songs first, then write the music.” One piece is called “Ive Sn Th Gra Md” after the first line of “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. And the syncopated, melodic tune “The Generator” is actually the name of a composition process invented by Jones. “On my first album, I set each letter of the alphabet (randomly) to a musical note and from that generated material to use in composition,” explained Jones. “For the second album, I wanted to take the process a step further and applied random intervals to the alphabet algorithm to also create harmonic/linear content for composing.” 

The cascading musical phrases of Clean are guided by Glenn Zaleski on piano, the SNAP saxophone quartet, and others on clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and cello. The album comes off as simultaneously complicated and simple. Jones told S&H, “For me, the idea of making the complicated simple takes the work past craft and into artistry—hopefully!” 

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