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Jazz Quartet Plays Something Old, Something New

Dressed in suit and tie, Louisville jazz saxophonist Ron Jones and three other talented musicians treated their Berea College audience to the enthusiastic, swinging performance of “Hot Licks, Cool Jazz.”

Ron Jones of the Ron Jones Quartet.

Presenting a mix of jazz and blues classics such as Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek” and Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” along with Jones’ original compositions, the quartet filled Phelps Stokes with smooth, upbeat jazz rhythms that grabbed the attention of their evening audience. The contemporary jazz from Jones included the songs "One Step Up" and "Vision of Beauty," which was written for his wife.

Students and other members of the community kept up a steady stream of applause and cheers for the musicians, showing their appreciation for each talented instrumental solo. The ease and camaraderie between the performers was tangible as they wove their music into a relaxing night of tunes, complete with encore.

Jones, the leader of the quartet, was joined by Cincinnati’s Rob Allyeger on piano, and fellow Louisville musicians Sonny Stephens on bass and Bruce Morrow on drums.

Jones also offered the audience a short introduction to jazz and the different parts of jazz instrumentation. During Jones’ running commentary, Allyeger demonstrated swing on piano accompaniment, Stephens showed how he has to “walk a bass line,” and Morrow offered an example of how he plays the drums with “all four limbs.” All four instruments came together seamlessly.

Speaking from his experiences as a saxophone instructor in Louisville, Jones mentioned how his students sometimes approach him and ask to learn jazz.

“This music is so much fun to play,” said Jones. “[But jazz] is not as easy as people sometimes think it is … it’s an ongoing thing.” He added that learning to play jazz includes learning harmony, chorus, scales and “listening to a lot of records.”

“As soon as you think you’ve got it mastered, it masters you.”

Jones has been making music for more than twenty years. A well-known name on the jazz scene in Louisville, Ky., Jones graduated from Florida A&M University with a bachelors degree in music education. He currently balances his busy performing schedule at universities, jazz clubs and festivals with providing private saxophone lessons for people of all ages. The quartet’s first CD, “A Vision of Beauty,” can be found at Jones’ Web site below.

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