Background Music

As a college student, Sean Jones routinely made the 63-mile drive from Warren, Ohio, just to play with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. “They treated me like a little brother,” he recalls. Now, after recording five albums, playing lead trumpet for New York’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and teaching music at Duquesne University, Jones has returned to lead the group that gave him his start. We talked to the 31-year-old about growing up with music, coming home and his plans for the orchestra.

Why Cleveland?
“I’ve always wanted to come back home and try to make a difference. I’m not one of those people that believe that you just leave home, and you forget about it, and you never come back and try to help. So I decided that this is a perfect opportunity to come back and try to make a difference in my community.”

How has your background influenced your music?
“I started playing and performing music in the church. My third album is basically a tribute to my upbringing, which is called Roots, so it’s heavily influenced by gospel.”

Why did you choose the trumpet?
“I found out that my grandfather played the bugle in the Civil War, so I took the
trumpet home, and I realized why nobody else played it — it’s extremely difficult. There’s only three buttons.”

What’s one goal you have for the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra?
“We want to collaborate with other arts organizations. We want to collaborate with dance ensembles; we want to collaborate with gospel choirs. One collaboration that we’re working on is with Dancing Wheels, and that’s something that we’re probably going to do in May 2010.”

What’s coming up for the orchestra?
“We’re doing a love songs concert; that’s one thing that everybody can understand, and it’s right before Valentine’s Day [Feb. 13 at the Hanna Theatre], so it’s the perfect reason to go out and celebrate with the person you love.”
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