Song After Song: Eric Jones

Photo by Somi Benson

ERIC JONES is easily one of the most talented musicians we have in Savannah. If you need any evidence of that fact, his 2019 album Azubuike should confirm it without question. He's been playing in the area regularly for years, and is also a professor at Savannah State University.

The keyboardist and composer has a wealth of musical knowledge to share, and we were lucky enough to get him to take part in one of our newest series’, Song After Song, where he enlightened us and expanded on two very important pieces of music.

Original Song: "Azubuike"

What stands out about the writing process?

For me, composition is a slower form of improvisation. Every note is usually deliberate but sometimes mistakes happen that bring life to the creation.

How long of a writing process was it?

I think it took a couple of weeks. I had a harmonic progression in my head for some time so that was part of the writing process. When it came to sitting down and putting pen to paper it was then a matter of what I would choose to write from in my head. I had to create the melody from the rolodex of harmonies I had stored.

What about this song makes it an important one for you personally?

The meaning of Azubuike comes from Igbo "the past is our strength." It spoke volumes to me because of my past trials which I had to overcome. I also love the harmonic progressions.

Generally speaking, who are some of the artists you look to for inspiration as a writer?

I have a wide range of artists I look up to from gospel to classical, world, hip hop, and jazz. Such artists as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Claude Debussy, Angelique Kidjo, Ivan Lins, Maurice Ravel, Mos Def, Public Enemy, Eric B and Rakim, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul.

As a songwriter, do you tend to have a goal in mind musically that you sit down and work at? Or do you let songs happen organically?

It depends on the situation. If I write for a specific purpose or client then I have a goal, but if it’s for my personal use then I try to let the music unfold organically.

Favorite Song: "Ana Maria" - Wayne Shorter

When did you first discover this song?

17 years ago. My mentor performed it at a concert at Armstrong University.

What stands out to you about it?

I love the unpredictability of the melody and harmony. It ebb and flows from beauty to sadness and everything in between.

Dissect it musically; what’s most interesting to you in terms of production, writing, instrumentation, etc?

The song is from Native Dancer. It consists of Wayne Shorter on soprano saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano and keyboard, Dave Mcdaniel on bass, and Robert Silva on drums. The harmony is unpredictable. Wayne Shorter utilizes the phrygian mode. There are surprising modulations and angular melodies that take the listener on a journey. It tells a story like a movie score.

If you could make one connection between this song and yours, what would it be?

I think my song tries to tell a story without words like a movie score—at least that’s what I try to do. I think both songs tend to be outside the box. Both combine electronic and acoustic instrumentation. There’s a fusion of different genres within each song to make them hard to label.


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