Behind the Mic: Brian Jones
Written by WSLR Author on Thursday, February 23, 2023
Passionate, thoughtful and deeply reverent to music in its many forms, Brian Jones of “Jazz and More” opens up about the universal significance of musical connection and how he incorporates love into every second of his program.
After moving to Sarasota in the summer of 2019, Brian Jones and his wife happened to attend a concert at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. The eclecticism, casual energy and great music that define the venue made a positive impression on the couple, and they struck up a conversation with another patron who happened to be a programmer at WSLR. Jones’s curiosity, along with his passion for sharing and discovering music, inspired him to submit an application to WSLR to host a program of his own. “Jazz and More” hit the airwaves by January 2020. Now, three years later, Jones continues to uplift listeners’ drive time with “Jazz and More” every Wednesday from 4 to 6 p.m. on 96.5 FM.
Despite his bona fides as a jazz aficionado, Jones stresses that the “More” is just as important. “It is an eclectic mix of music that is grounded in jazz. It can be classic jazz, bebop, fusion, post-fusion, electronica,” he says. Classic and vintage rock, R&B, contemporary blues, and world music also make their way into his sets. “You’ll hear everything from Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Jimi Hendrix, David Crosby, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.”
Having spent his career as a photographer and writer, Jones now works as an adjunct professor at Ringling College of Art and Design, and brings his artistic eye to the creation of “Jazz and More” sets. In what he describes as an “organic, intense process,” he chooses music through the combination of active searching and natural, coincidental discovery, as one might do when seeking the perfect subject to photograph. Jones maintains the belief that the music he plays should uplift, inspire and epitomize love. “Love is the most important thing in the universe, and music represents the articulation of that,” he says. “It is a pure expression, maybe the purest expression of love.”
His love for and deep knowledge of jazz and its many iterations manifests in his dedication to showcasing artists who personify musical genius and genuine passion. Artists such as Samara Joy, Gary Clark Jr., Toby Lee and more bring to life the essence of love and talent that define “Jazz and More.”
Jones’s passion for community and connection is another important characteristic of his show. He creates thought-provoking playlists that are fun to listen to, but also highlight specific themes, emotions, or social and political happenings. “[My intention] is to provoke intense thought,” he says. “It can be spiritual in nature; it can be political. While I want people to relax into the groove, I also want their minds to be working and internalizing it in such a way that their spirits are elevated and their consciousness is raised.”
“[I have a] holistic, reciprocal relationship with other programmers at WSLR. There’s an unspoken link or bond that makes me feel like I’m part of a family that’s providing something unique and special to the Sarasota area.”
Jones’s perception of music relies on the concept of a “universal tone,” which he aims to embody in the music played on “Jazz and More.” “If you think about the universe, there is a communication, a tone, that echoes throughout,” he says. “You hear it in birds, in the language of dolphins and whales, in the intonations of human beings. In those tones there is energy without words. That’s the energy that I’m really trying to feel, sense, and share through the music I play.”
The energy expressed in the music played on “Jazz and More” also reflects the essence of family that Jones identifies within WSLR. “[I have a] holistic, reciprocal relationship with other programmers at WSLR. There’s an unspoken link or bond that makes me feel like I’m part of a family that’s providing something unique and special to the Sarasota area.” Jones has committed even more fully to his WSLR family by serving on the board of WSLR+Fogartyville.
Jones’s thoughtful and carefully inspired “Jazz and More” sets are sure to bring listeners these feelings of love, uniqueness and universal connection, while keeping them engaged with an ever-evolving catalog of artists, new and old, experimental and classic. Tune in to 96.5 FM during your Wednesday drive home from 4 to 6 p.m. to tap into the universal tone, relax into the groove, and more!