On Thursday, March 6, composer-alto saxophonist Darius Jones will present the world premiere of The Oversoul Manual at Roulette in Brooklyn. An a cappella work crafted in and utilizing a heretofore unheard alien language, it will be performed by his all-female vocal quartet, The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, featuring Amirtha Kidambi, Sarah Martin, Jean-Carla Rodea, Kristin Slipp.
Introducing a new verse and set of characters in Jones' ongoing Man'ish Boy epic, The Oversoul Manual signifies both an elemental part of his mythology and a radical extension of the vocal work which lies at the genesis of Jones' singularly potent creative life. Vocalists and vocal music have always been a major influence on and inspiration to him. Darius Jones sang in gospel choirs and indeed was gospel choir director at his church in Virginia; early in his career, he was also a vocal coach and produced albums for singers from extremely diverse backgrounds. Jones writes, I can't remember a time in my musical development when I didn't turn to the vocal process to answer questions as an instrumentalist. One of the things I find so attractive about vocal music is the ability to use verbal language to take a note or rhythm beyond it's musical function."
Two years ago, Jones began work on The Oversoul Manual because he wanted to communicate his deep love for the voice and the process by which each singer develops their unique instrument. This collection of etudes was written for his vocal quartet, The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, and are vehicles to teach each singer the linguistic and sonic vocabulary of an alien birthing ritual. As Jones explains further, In this alien culture, having a child is done with the spiritual agreement of three or more humanoids. Each female alien gives birth to some aspect of the genetic makeup that forms the child. The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit are the proud mothers of a son called Man'ish Boy. The birthing ritual can take years for some units. The creation of Man'ish Boy took seven."
Since launching his recording career in 2009 with Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing), one of the great jazz debuts of the past decade" (Britt Robson, eMusic), Jones has been called a singular talent" (Brian Morton, Jazz Journal), one of the most impressive and unique voices of our time" (Troy Collins, AllAboutJazz), one of jazz's most exciting practitioners" (John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald), and possessed of titanic, trail-blazing originality" (John McBeath, The Australian)
On his most recent album release, Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise), critics wrote: this invigorating quartet date walks the line between exploration and accessibility that most musicians are afraid — or unable — to touch" (Marc Medwin, Dusted), with each new recording we're seeing another facet of a magnificently gifted musician" (Peter Margasek, DownBeat), he gets into areas that are almost impossible to describe, though the feeling is of a gentle roundness and liquid caress both incredibly pure and powerful" (Clifford Allen), and Jones' playing and composing may have some of the mercurial energy associated with the avant-garde but the communicative immediacy of African-American folk traditions stands like a bedrock in his work" (Kevin LeGendre, Jazzwise). As DownBeat publisher Frank Alkyer wrote in his Editor's Pick review, He has a big, adventurous plan. He’s telling a story that’s long and involved, but gripping. It's one of the best, most thought-out recordings I've heard this year, and now I can’t wait to hear the next “verse” from Darius Jones."
The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit will be recording Darius Jones' The Oversoul Manual this Spring toward an Autumn 2014 release on AUM Fidelity. For now, there is the pending revelation of the March 6 world premiere performance of this work at Roulette.