Don’t ever say that to Sean Jones.
The acclaimed jazz musician, who is in Ogden this week for an artist-in-residence program at Weber State University, believes deeply in the power of this uniquely American art form.
“I’m using jazz music to basically tell the story of America,” Jones told the Standard-Examiner on Tuesday. “Jazz music is the sophisticated soundscape of America, capturing its highs and lows.”
And Jones believes that jazz can help lead us, as a people, to becoming better versions of ourselves.
“I want students to understand, through this music, that there’s a higher, deeper calling for us — a deeper way of being human,” he said. “It’s 2018. We have to work together.”
The Sean Jones Quartet will be working together at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, performing in the Browning Center’s Austad Auditorium on campus. Tickets are $20 for adults and $8 for WSU students with I.D.
For more information or tickets, call 801-626-8500 or visit weberstatetickets.com.
Jones’ bio refers to him as a “trumpeter, composer, educator and activist.”
Jones started out singing and performing with the church choir in his hometown of Warren, Ohio. At age 10, he switched from the drums to the trumpet after being exposed to jazz great Miles Davis.
Doing his undergraduate work at Youngstown State University, Jones later received his master’s degree from Rutgers University before landing a six-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra — where he began working with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.
Throughout a career of working with any number of prominent jazz figures, as well as composing and performing his own music, Jones says education has been a priority for him. He taught at Duquesne University and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and he regularly offers master classes and clinics around the world.
More recently, Jones joined the Berklee College of Music’s distinguished faculty as the chairman of the brass department.
As for that final label in his bio — “activist”? Jones says it’s a result of the combination of those first three labels.
“Trumpeter, composer, educator,” he said. “All three of those thing combined to make me an activist.”
Jones, who is teaching master classes to students at Weber throughout this week, insists there isn’t much difference between teaching jazz and performing it.
“They serve the same goal, sort of pushing the music forward,” he said. “It has both an education component and a performance component, because when you perform, minds get stirred, and that’s what education is about.”
As a performer, Jones said his role is to make sure that he represents the best of what jazz has to offer. At his performance on Friday, he said the audience can expect a lot of synergy, a lot of spontaneity, highs and lows with plenty of dynamics.
“And they can expect to be uplifted,” Jones concludes.
As for his favorite crowds to perform in front of?
“The audience I prefer is an audience that has worked all week long, had a rough week or at least put in a lot of hours,” he said. “And now it’s 8 o’clock on a Friday night and they just want a release, and they’re trusting me to curate that, to take them away momentarily from all the stuff they did all week — to help them escape.”
The Sean Jones Quartet concert is the first offering in the inaugural season of Browning Presents! — formerly known as the Office of Cultural Affairs on campus. The series will include visits by writer Ronan Farrow on Jan. 19, documentarian Helen Whitney on March 12, and The Choir of Clare College on March 25.