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Darius Jones

Queens, NY            

Over the past decade, Darius Jones has created a recognizable voice as a critically acclaimed saxophonist and composer by embracing individuality and innovation in the tradition of African-American music. “Jones’ concept is proudly his own,” writes Philip Clark in The Wire. [His music] poses big questions about the relationship between the African-American tradition of spirituals, blues and gospel, and now.” With New York City as his base since 2005, Jones has brought his unique sound to dozens of cities around the United States, Canada and Europe. His work as a composer for voice culminated in a performance at Carnegie Hall in 2014. The New York Times named Jones among the Best Live Jazz Performances of 2017 for his Vision Festival performance with Farmers by Nature.

 Signed to AUM Fidelity records in 2009, Jones has released a string of diverse recordings which comprise his Man’ish Boy Epic, featuring music and images evocative of Black Futurism. 

 Jones was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship by Roulette in 2008, which he used to launch his chamber ensemble, the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, a project dedicated to new works for voice. Roulette continued their support for Darius’ work through a Jerome Foundation Commission, and he was a Jerome Artist-in-Residence when the Elizabeth-Caroline Unit premiered his vocal composition, The Oversoul Manual, in the Spring of 2014. Jones made his compositional debut at Carnegie Hall with The Oversoul Manual in October of 2014. In 2013, Jones was awarded the French-American Jazz Exchange grant for a collaboration with French vocalist Emilie Lesbros.

 In 2018, Darius was awarded the Fromm Music Foundation commission at Harvard University.

 Nominated in 2013 for Alto Saxophonist of the Year, and for Up & Coming Artist of the Year two years in a row for the Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards, early on Jones established himself as a powerful voice in the jazz community.

 Jones has collaborated with artists including Gerald Cleaver, Oliver Lake, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, Georgia Ann Muldrow, Trevor Dunn, Eric Revis, Mike Reed, Nasheet Waits, Orrin Evans, Branford Marsalis, Kris Davis, Vijay Iyer, Marshall Allen, Dave Burrell, James Carter, Harriet Tubman, JD Allen, Tyshawn Sorey, Andrew Cyrille, Yo La Tengo, Chad Taylor, Dan Weiss, Matt Mitchell, Ches Smith, Steve Lehman, Jim Black, Sun Ra Arkestra, Shazhad Ismaily, Fay Victor, Cooper-Moore, Imani Uzuri, Matthew Shipp, Nicole Mitchell, and many more.

 Jones was one of Jazz Times’ Debut Artists of the Year for 2009 and was featured in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. In 2012 he was featured in DownBeat and on WBGO’s The Checkout. Jones’ 2012 release, Book of Mæ’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) was listed among NPR’s Best Top 10 Jazz Albums of that year. “Jones speaks through his alto in an original and unforced language,” writes DownBeat’s Joe Tangari. Critics have called him “robustly creative” (Nate Chinen, New York Times) and “one of NYC’s most incisive and passionate saxists” (Time Out New York). AllAboutJazz.com reviewer Troy Collins writes, “Jones has set the stage for a winning series of albums designed to document his rise as one of the most impressive and unique voices of our time.”  

From The Oversoul Manual, Track 11

The Oversoul Manual is an a cappella work comprised of 15 pieces performed by his vocal quartet, The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit (featuring the great vocal talents of Amirtha Kidambi, Sarah Martin, Jean-Carla Rodea, and Kristin Slipp), it utilizes a new language / compositional approach fully created by Darius Jones. The album is both an elemental part of Jones’ Mani’sh Boy mythology and a fully illuminated / radical expression of his profound love for the voice, which remains at the foundation of Darius’ singularly potent creative life.

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The Oversoul Manual: Track 13

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The Oversoul Manual: Overview

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NewMusicBox Articles

NewMusicBox October 29 2020 | By Darius Jones
We Can Change the Country, Essay (2020)

This is not a composition; it’s a protest. This is not a performance; it’s a demonstration. This is a political work of art. I wrote it to express the hypocrisy...