Bujo Kevin Jones
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Bujo Kevin Jones


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The best kept secret in music


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Tenth World (Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Bujo" Kevin Jones

Percussionist-bandleader Bujo Kevin Jones’ debut recording for Motéma Music, TENTH WORLD, is a festive, multi-cultural affair. Driven by the organic pathways of the drum, Jones and his spirited crew traverse waters from Harlem River Drive soul to the streets of Havana all the way to the Congo, heart of the African motherland. Those diverse traditions are bathed in the spirit of jazz improvisation, fired by kinetic horn play, rippling keyboards, deep bass grooves and the kind of palpable joy of music-making engendered by truly selfless ensemble play – a hallmark of Bujo Kevin Jones and his Tenth World band.

Bujo, a percussionist and leader in the ancient future mode, is heavily steeped in the ancestral spiritual traditions of the drum, while at the same time, thoroughly modern in his approach to music. A native of Englewood, New Jersey, Jones grew up in a household immersed in jazz, from Charlie Parker and Grant Green to John Coltrane, along with the pop and R&B legends of the times. Jones traces his percussion expertise to the age-old ‘academy of the streets.’ Over the years he has evolved an increasingly comprehensive approach to his instruments, commanding respect on stages ranging from the Isley Brothers to Whitney Houston to Winard Harper to such jazz legends as Reggie Workman.

Immersed in drumming since the tender age of 10, Bujo learned to play by the seat of his pants. Neighborhood drummers were prone to testifying on front lawns and park benches, hand drums and various percussive enhancements in tow; their massaging, pulsating, skin-on-skins thoroughly hooked the impressionable youngster. Later on, future cohorts like Motéma label mate Babatunde Lea (producer of Tenth World) initiated him into traditional African drumming and dance communities where he met Congo ex-pat Coster Massamba who provided further sustenance and impetus for Bujo to transition from acolyte to master practitioner. Though not Latino, Jones also found himself magnetically attracted to Latin music, particularly the Latin Soul sounds that permeated the New York/New Jersey byways during the late 60s/early 70s; sounds by Nuyorican artists like Joe Cuba, Joe Bataan, and assorted Fania 'soul-seros'. He became immersed in Afro-Cuban flavors through the influence and teaching of fellow percussionists Lea, Steve Kroon, and Richie “Pablo” Landrum, who taught the youngster at one of New York’s premier music academies, Jazzmobile. Though now a master in his own right, Bujo, considers himself an “eternal student of the drum” and derives current inspiration from studies with Columbian drum master Luisito Quintero, also a core member of the Tenth World ensemble.

In addition to having recorded eight records during his thirteen years with the Isleys, Bujo’s percussion prowess can be found on recordings by, Omar and Angie Stone, Babatunde Lea (he plays on Soul Pools and co-produced Lea’s recent Suite Unseen), Winard Harper and Joey DeFranceso, and house music icons Josh Milan and Kevin Hedge of Blaze just to name just a few. As a live performer Bujo has graced the bandstands of Whitney Houston, Winard Harper, Reggie Workman, Archie Shepp, Benny Powell, T.K. Blue, Randy Weston, hip hop artist Q-Tip DJ Little Louie Vega’s, Elements Of Life band and many, many more. A passionate and skilled teacher, Bujo is also deeply dedicated to passing on his ‘street academy’ music smarts to the next generation, through teaching residencies with the Bronx Arts Ensemble and in workshops at colleges and other youth organizations.

Philosophically, Bujo is among those insightful artists who feel that their music must strive for that delicate balance between true creativity and entertaining enlightenment. “People want to be entertained,” he says. “I’m not suggesting in order to become entertainers we have to lower the level of our musicianship, but people want to go to a club and enjoy themselves, and sometimes the music has become a bit too cerebral. I think music should be more selfless than selfish. I’m here for the people because without the people there would be no music; I could sit at home and play to satisfy myself.” That attitude of skillfully balancing creativity and the art of improvisation with a good groove and an innate ability to convey some sunshine to its listeners is inherent in the work of Bujo Kevin Jones. See it and hear it all on Tenth World.