Words: Mariana Curado
Joe Armon-Jones is a keyboardist, composer and producer whose work regularly bends genre boundaries, interweaving jazz with contemporary dance music and heavy bass dub. What results is a tapestry of old and new; fresh and classic; a perfect example of the eclectic nature of modern jazz.
Besides his solo ventures, he is a founding member of the Ezra Collective, a London-based multi award-winning quintet formed by Femi Koleoso (drums), TJ Koleoso (bass), Joe Armon-Jones (keys), Dylan Jones (trumpet), and James Mollison (tenor saxophone).
Fun fact: Back when he was studying at Trinity-Laban, Armon-Jones was one of the first mentors of the NYJO London Academy!
Released in 2018, JAJ’s debut album ‘Starting Today’ is an ode to London and its unique jazz scene. A highly collaborative endeavour, featuring a flurry of well-known names synonymous with London’s most recent jazz renaissance – Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd, Oscar Jerome and Ego Ella May, among others.
The album begins with its titular track – Starting Today – where Asheber, founder and bandleader of The Afrikan Revolution, sets the tone with the album’s rousing first lyrics “Starting today, I’m gonna wipe the blood off these streets, starting today/Spread love in the community, starting today”.
Armon-Jones takes a modern-jazz journey from the discrete influences on that eclectic London sound to its thrillingly diverse present – and stakes his claim as one of the scene’s most promising voices.
As the album progresses, different themes and genres come together seamlessly to mirror the artist’s journey through the London scene – blending, weaving, and paying homage to the different musical realms that make up the city’s sonic canvas. From the melodic R&B notes in Almost Went Too Far, to the masterful dub infusions of Mollison Dub, not only does Armon-Jones’ own talent shine throughout, but the collaborative work that went into the project is very clear, adding a deeper sense of community to the project.
Very much in line with his label Brownswood Recordings’ ethos, ‘Starting Today’ feels at the same time traditional and modern. Its discernible influences are clear, but so compellingly combined it instantly feels like a modern classic primed for repeat listening (hence why it features here!). Founded and headed by indie Jazz and World music veteran, Gilles Peterson, Brownswood was created to offer an artistic roof under which musical exploration and invention is not only welcomed, but necessary.
Starting Today presents Armon-Jones as one of the best purveyors of the magical jazz stirring in his city.Bandcamp
|Released||4 May 2018|
|Genre||Jazz, Soul, Dub, Funk|
|Cover design||Reuben Bastienne-Lewis|
|Joe Armon-Jones||Electric Piano [Wurlitzer]/Piano/Vocals|
|Nubya Garcia||Tenor Saxophone|
|Ego Ella May||Vocals|
|James Mollison||Tenor Saxophone|
|Maxwell Owin||Effects [FX]|
|2.||Almost Went Too Far||6.25|