A Musician-Studded Sendoff for Marlon Patton
Adrianne Murchison, Staff Editor
The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room
Trumpeter Melvin Jones will lead a celebrated musical send-off for Marlon Patton during Jones’s return to The Velvet Note on Sunday, Aug. 25. Patton, a highly regarded drummer across many genres, departs soon for new residential digs in New York City.
To mark the occasion, guest musicians are set to come jam and improvise with Jones, Patton and the entire quintet that also includes Mace Hibbard on sax, Kevin Bales on piano and Billy Thornton on Bass.
Improvisation can be a thrill for Jones, a Morehouse College graduate and trumpet professor. “With jazz improvisation, the composition is at lightning speed from your mind to the listener’s ear,” he says. “[If it’s your own composition] with other musicians it’s beautiful to see how it comes out.”
He adds, “It’s going to be fun. [Patton] enjoys playing new music, and we will play a lot of my new music.”
Jones, a man of many dimensions in his artistry, will premiere songs from an upcoming album. In his latest music, the Memphis, Tenn. native blends his original jazz compositions with old spiritual songs and hymns, modernizing them to inspire every listening ear. Each song such as “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” and “Wade in the Water” could very well become Jones’s favorite of all the music he has released to date.
“It’s funny because my favorite has been an arrangement of Richard Smallwood’s song “Angels,”’ he says. The song on Jones’s 2011 album, “Pivot,” shows how beautifully jazz and gospel come together.
“I’m a preacher’s kid,” he explains. “The church, when I was growing up, it didn’t smile on you playing jazz.”
Interestingly, jazz saxophonist Kirk Whalum attended the same church as Jones and was an early mentor. “He gave me my first music theory lessons from the pulpit of the church,” Jones recalls.
Jones has shared the stage with a myriad of musicians including Quincy Jones – who is one of his greatest influences, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Lopez, Brian McKnight and more.
In addition to college students, Jones teaches music fundamentals and theory of jazz to middle and high schoolers in workshops and master classes in St. Thomas, St. John and St, Croix, Virgin Islands. He’s part of an artist-in-residence program titled, “Mentoring Through the Music Arts.” The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education and United Jazz Foundation co-sponsor the program.
Jones encourages the young music protégés to live a life worth writing about. His own former teacher, the late William “Prof” Fielder, imparted a similar message while Jones studied for his Master’s Degree in Music at the Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Jersey.
“He [would say be] ‘gratified but never satisfied,’” Jones remembers. “So even though what you accomplished may be great, you can always be better.”
Fielder taught the likes of Wynton Marsalis, David Sanchez, Kenny Garrett and Terence Blanchard.
“That man changed the course of my life. His teaching method automatically creates other teachers,” Jones says.” It was expected that you would be able to show him what you know… That prepared me to teach.”
Jones demonstrates to crowds what he knows on stages from Atlanta to Qatar, where he has performed at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Club in Doha.
Of his new music and upcoming sets at The Velvet Note, he says, “I’m excited to see how it’s received.”