FOR CONNIE JONES

small purple flower

Only a few words here, because the subject is, as Kris Tokarski wrote, “bittersweet.”  One of my heroes — a player and singer of amazing grace, the cornetist and singer Connie Jones, has retired from performance due to ill health.

The trombonist Charlie Halloran wrote this morning on Facebook, “Pretty amazing playing alongside Connie Jones for his final performance.  He’s headed into an unbelievably well earned retirement.  But man, how am I going to hear those melodies without him just to my right?!  Even today he played at the highest level, world class.  Congrats Connie!”

That was Connie — among friends Tim Laughlin, Michael Pittsley, Chris Dawson, Katie Cavera, Marty Eggers, and Hal Smith — in November 2012 at the San Diego Jazz Fest.

Connie’s art comes from his heart, and it has touched ours.  His music has been quiet, gentle, searching — apparently simple melodic embellishment for those who aren’t listening closely, but truly a journey of small elegant surprises.  A Connie solo is like walking in a field and discovering a small purple blossom, fragrant, fragile.

His has never been a loud art.  It doesn’t abuse the air.  But it has been the most singular lesson: how to breathe warm air into metal and create lasting song. How to take familiar words and melody and infuse them with new yet lasting truth.

Another example.

When I was a semi-Californian, I had the privilege of seeing and hearing Connie in performance in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 (as well as in New Orleans at the Steamboat Stomp in 2015).  I came to him late in his career, and thus missed thousands of opportunities, but Connie never objected to being video-ed . . . so I have posted more than a hundred of his quiet poetic masterpieces on this blog and on YouTube.  (And more have not yet been seen.)  Most of those performances have had Connie at the side of Tim Laughlin, someone who completely understood Connie’s genius and took very good care of him.

I urge you to return to those performances and to Connie’s recordings with Tim, with Dick Sudhalter, and in other contexts.  Connie’s delicacy, his striving to find deep emotions in familiar material, has always shown him the most subtle of poets.

I wish him joy and health and ice cream in his retirement, alongside Elaine.  I send love and admiration and gratitude.

May your happiness increase!

7 responses to “FOR CONNIE JONES

  1. Dan Morgenstern

    I was introduced to Connie and his special way with a horn by Dick Sudhalter and became a fan, always happy to see and hear him at my annual trek to Satchmo Summerfest and will surely miss him. All the best in retirement!

    >

  2. Pete Simkiins, from Cheltenham, England

    Thanks a million Connie for all the wonderful music. Your playing embodies the spirit of Hackett, Butterfield and Windhurst but you’ve always been your own man . Have as much happiness in retirement as you’ve given to us over the years.

  3. Don "Zoot" Conner

    I’m a late-comer to Connie’s art, but I love his mellow playing and singing. I wish him a great retirement. And thanks to Michael’s introduction to his sounds a while back.

  4. Allways loved listening to you..stay well..mike palmere.

  5. Connie truly has his own sound. Tasteful, pristine, never overpowering yet with an emphatic groove that made a band swing hard. I am forever grateful to him for hiring me to tour with his Crescent City Jazz Band many, many years ago. His leadership, patience and showmanship reached every person in the band and in the audience. I am also very happy that he accepted my invite to record on two of my CDs. His command solo on “My Buddy” is breathtaking, and still evokes awe. Thank you Connie for being part of my musical life. Judi K

  6. I was lucky to be there and meet him, it was a brilliant performance by Jones and the band.

  7. Pingback: NOTES FROM CONNIE (April 8, 2016) | JAZZ LIVES

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