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Album Review 

Jason Jenkins 

Synonyms and Antonyms

Jason Jenkins is well known in Virginia where he plays bass, writes songs, leads jazz groups in clubs, is a valuable sideman, and also works as a studio musician. Along the way he has led at least ten albums of his own.

Synonyms and Antonyms teams the bassist with three musicians who he has often worked and recorded with. Victor Haskins is a powerful trumpeter who plays creative solos and is able to essay a variety of chord changes with apparent ease. Pianist Toru Dodo is a fluent and soulful improviser while drummer Billy Williams keeps the music swinging and is expert at supporting the lead players.

On this set, Jenkins and his musicians perform three of his originals, Dodo’s “Boneless & Skinless,” and Duke Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss.” The opener, “Clock Work,” has a complex melody and a framework that includes some surprising double time sections. The heated trumpet and piano solos are impressive and there is also a short spot for Williams.

“So Tinha De Ser Com Voce” has a vocal in Portuguese by guest singer Laura Ann Singh, the feel of a bossa, and a high-powered closing ensemble that has Ms. Singh interacting with Haskins.

“Midnight Polonaise” begins with a fine spot for the leader’s bass which sets the mood for the song. Haskins’ trumpet on the melody makes one think of the romantic side of Spain. Also included are a piano solo that builds on the opening statement, a trumpet improvisation by Haskins that displays his impressive range, and a dancing bass solo.

“Le Dernier Jour de L’automne” has a particularly catchy melody and becomes a real swinger. The final two performances are features for the rhythm section. Dodo’s “Boneless & Skinless” is happily eccentric, a bit reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, and is quite unpredictable. The album concludes with a tasteful rendition of Duke Ellington’s classic ballad “Prelude To A Kiss.”

Throughout Synonyms and Antonyms, the music always holds one’s interest, whether it is the colorful ensembles or the excellent individual statements. Jason Jenkins’ latest project is well worth exploring.


Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian