A Heart and an Open Road is the solo debut release on Motema Music from modern day troubadour and jazz/rock/blues man Patrick Stanfield Jones. Fueled by prodigious chops honed over some thirty years as a guitarist, composer and performer, Jones fearlessly – and with a dose of humor – dives into different genres, seamlessly transitioning from one style to the next, to sing a ‘conscious cowboy’s’ saga of true love, broken hearts and life on the proverbial road.
Flirting with jazz, toying with country and reveling in rock, Jones and his skilled band draw the best from their many musical influences on this action-packed disc. From the rolling country-rock jam of the title track to the swinging jump blues of “Crazy ‘Bout You,” to a surprising version of the Frank Sinatra hit “The Best is Yet to Come,” Jones shows up as a lovable composer/performer with deep passion and unflinching soul. “I guess I write in a ‘genre-melting pot’ style because that’s what I have experienced both as a person of multi-ethnic roots, and also as an itinerant performer meeting and playing with so many different kinds of people around this country,” says Jones. “At the core, these songs paint my picture of American music.”
Engineer/producer Larry Alexander, who won a Grammy® for his work with Janis Ian and is noted for work with Bon Jovi, Foreigner, Rickie Lee Jones and Joe Jackson, worked closely with Jones to synthesize the many sides of his talent into the vibrant collage that defines A Heart and an Open Road. Contributions by Jones’ band-mates and producer collaborators – drummer Don Gardner (John Pizzarelli, Mike Stern, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), bassist Barry Wiesenfeld (Rick Danko, Steve Forbert,) and keyboardist Rave Tesar (The Shirelles, Angela Bofill) – keep the energy high throughout the recording.
Backed in style by this capable crew, Jones takes full artistic reign of the project, having penned or co-penned all but four of the disc’s thirteen songs, while giving a nod to his cover-band days with a bluesy booze-soaked rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “No One Ever Tells You,” a slinky jazz-tinged version of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” and a raucous romp through the Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh classic “The Best is Yet to Come.” Also covered is “The Whisky (Don’t Bring Me Down),” a wry ode to self-medication, written by Mike Guaranga, Jones’s long time musical mate from the NY state band, The Sylvester Brothers.
Jones’s original songs reveal the sensibilities of a long time rocker and jazz specialist with an innate sense of popular song structure. The CD’s opening and title track quickly sets the mood with soul satisfying bluesy guitar licks and a surprise twist on true love. Up next is the catchy “Block of Ice” a humorous bluesy rant over love gone south. “Lisa” is an insightful Beatles-esque work that could well be dubbed ‘the ballad of the sensitive man,’ while “Hammer” and “Yo Do De Do” both allude to tough times in the singer’s younger years. “Crazy ‘Bout You” and “If You Were My Baby” reveal Jones to be a true romantic at heart, as does the disc’s closer, “Changing of the Guard,” which leaves us on a hopeful note. “I’m always here for you baby,” he sings in this country ode to love gone right. Taken as a whole, these songs paint a clear picture of Jones as a man of integrity who realizes the importance of risk taking in the emotional arena.
Jones’s connection with Motema Music was initiated a few years back when Patrick’s brother (and label-mate) percussionist Kevin Bujo Jones, hooked him up to play guitar in label founder and president Jana Herzen’s band. Several years of musical collaborations led to Jones releasing his project on Motema. “Pat can play in any style, has a theatrical way with a vocal and he can play well in virtually any style,” explains Herzen. “He can really shred on lead guitar, which puts him in a league with people like Clapton, Stevie Rae Vaughn and Bonnie Raitt.”
Jones has been singing and playing guitar and other sundry instruments professionally since the ripe old age of 14. With gigs ranging from dives to major concert halls, he’s shared stages with the likes of Buddy Miles, Taj Mahal and Kenny Rankin, performed in national theater tours for Jesus Christ Superstar and Oh! Calcutta!, and has also performed in both jazz and classical arenas.
Wisdom gained from this exciting and extensive life on the road inspires both his playing and songwriting on A Heart and an Open Road. “These songs are little eclipses in time; some of it is humorous, and some of it is philosophical,” says Jones. Discussing the CD’s title track, the singer confesses, “I had always sought happiness and love in other people, and material things, only to realize what I really needed was to just learn to be content with myself.”
As Jones heads out to promote his solo debut, he says he looks forward to continuing his journey of self-discovery and keeping his heart full of love while back on the open road.