A strong, passionate, soulful representation of the vicissitudes of life transpires from every minute of the impressive first album (as a leader) by alto saxophonist Darius Jones. Flanked by masters Cooper-Moore (piano and diddley-bo) and Rakalam Bob Moses (drums), Jones achieves the difficult aim of presenting a self-portrait which is at one and the same time visceral and fragile, and – in essence – achingly beautiful for its large part. Grown in Virginia in a poor family, this man’s existence has been influenced by the presence of music since a very tender age, and it clearly shows. The manner of speaking of Jones’ reed is never formulaic, or just based on a set of rules to follow. His instrument can sound as a natural whirlwind of uncontrollable overtones (“Salty”) or the means for an invocation to superior entities (“Meekly” and, especially, “Forgive Me”). He’s able to draw gorgeous linear melodies while voluntarily keeping the notes at the margins of the correct pitch, sounding absolutely terrific nevertheless.
A profound spiritual empathy inevitably seems to exude from these pieces and adapt to our receptiveness: volatility, transcendence, heartbreaking awareness, undying hopefulness. It’s all there, even a degree of rage - check the power of “Chasing The Ghost”, in which Cooper-Moore and Moses shoot probationary bullets of anarchic interdependence as the protagonist keeps blowing your socks off with sterling tone and visionary vehemence. The bonus track “Chaych” features customary comrades Adam Lane and Jason Nazary pumping hard and exciting blues-tinged iron. Basically, Man’ish Boy is one of those albums whose constructive vigour is so vividly perceivable that a description causes more damage than good. Translation: get a copy soon and play it loud and often, as this debut is worthy of being called a classic.