“North by Freaking West,” played by Jazz Forest, is Ron Jones’s new album, the first that he’s recorded at his SkyMuse Studios, just east of Stanwood. The CD is the latest layer of his first creative project by the same name.
Jones’ musical career led him from the northwest to Los Angeles, where he spent 37 years making magical musical connections and honing his conducting, arranging and writing skills. He moved back to refresh himself in Northwest forests and create projects on his own terms.
This CD is the soundtrack of Jones’ multimedia project, “North by Freaking West,” which he wrote, arranged and conducted. He gathered 15 fine musicians and created the orchestra, Jazz Forest, to perform these songs. Jones coordinated with international performance schedules of busy musicians from Seattle and L.A. to work on this project. Musicians are Chuck Findley, Jeff Kashiwa, Pete Christlieb, Jaren Hall, Susan Pascal, Bob McChesney, Brian Monroney, Steve Kirk, John Hansen, Bill Anschell, Nate Omdal, Matt Jorgensen, Kyle Doran, Brad Dutz and Linda Small-Christlieb.
Four songs are Jones’ compositions and three are select jazz standards and one is a jazzified version of Scarborough Fair, a traditional English ballad that Simon and Garfunkel made famous in 1966.
Jazz Forest performed these songs with Jones conducting in 2018 at Camano Center and Northwest Music Hall in Everett. Instead of the music augmenting Hollywood movies and animations as with Jones’ past work, a special video augmented the music.
Now the musical element has been memorialized in a CD to enjoy at leisure.
The music shines with the stellar orchestra’s tight, polished renditions of eight robust songs. Each song, at 8-9 minutes, takes the listener on a journey, sometimes a romp, sometimes a mystery, with the orchestra supporting each instrument’s jazzy improvised solo, or speaking in one voice to tell the story.
The layered sounds and tempos merit listening to again and again. The symphonic sound is energetic and controlled, but with free-reining solos, the mood takes curious twists and turns; you never know what’s coming.
This body of atmospheric songs flows from one to the next and moves the emotions like a movie soundtrack, yet the only movie is the one in your head when you sit back and enjoy the trip.
“My hope is that people will see something important through the music, the arts and craft stuff and the detail,” Jones said. “It was quite a long journey and on many levels to produce that project. There are many more hurdles than L.A., I was actually surprised by that. It is amazing that we did that right here.”