MJ12, featuring Brand X bass legend Percy Jones, will be releasing their eagerly awaited debut album on Gonzo Multimedia UK on June 24, 2016. Recorded in the summer of 2015 at Shelter Island studios in Manhattan, MJ12 is jazz/fusion/prog music at its finest. Featuring virtuosic performances by all four band members, in many ways this album is an extension of what Percy Jones created with Brand X!
Says Percy, “We took the name from Majestik 12, which was supposedly a group of 12 scientists and engineers assembled in the late 40’s to investigate UFO’s. There is an ongoing debate as to whether this group actually existed or not. Stephen Moses and I had been doing gigs for a while where we would invite guests to sit in. We did all improv, so this was actually M&J +1 or 2. After a while we started using David Phelps and Chris Bacas on a regular basis if they were available. At this point we started writing stuff, but keeping a lot of the improv thing going to keep it spontaneous. The end result was bits and pieces of ideas coming from everybody that were all tied together to try and make a coherent tune, but with lots of blowing inside. By last Summer we felt like it had shaped up well enough to record it, so we went in and recorded it over 2 days.”
Percy Jones grew up near Llandrindod Wells, Wales. He studied electronic engineering at the University of Liverpool before joining Liverpool Scene in 1967 He was a member of jazz fusion band Brand X from 1974 to 1980, and a reformed version which lasted from 1992 to 1997. He was in NYC based band Tunnels from 1990 until 2005. Still residing in New York, he is currently a member of MJ12. Jones is best known for his unique fretless bass sound. Jones was also briefly a member of the jazz fusion group Soft Machine, and has contributed to recordings by David Sylvian, Brian Eno, Steve Hackett, Roy Harper, Paranoise, Suzanne Vega, Richard Barbieri, Nova and Fovea Hex, amongst others.
After several years playing as part of “the loft jazz scene” in NYC with the likes of James Chance, John Zorn, Phillip Johnston, Ken Simon, Dave Hofstra (and many others) drummer/trombonist Stephen Moses started getting busier with more rock and jazz/rock in the CBGB’s scene with Giant Metal Insects and Quality Trio with Jim Matus & Percy Jones. Alice Donut formed after that and took Stephen on the road and the studio for several years and a dozen albums followed by a few tours with Rasputina. Then a few years ago Stephen rejoined Percy to do what we do today.
Guitarist David Phelps is currently a member of Peter Apfelbaum’s 11-piece band The New York Hieroglyphics, which includes many of today’s best creative musicians, including drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Patrice Blanchard, trombonist Josh Roseman and vocalist Abdoulaye Diabate. Their newest album “It Is Written” was released in August 2005 on the ACT label. He also leads his own band the Eclectic Troubadours. David grew up in Denton, Texas, the home of the University of North Texas, formerly known as North Texas State. As a youngster, he started playing the bass clarinet and later played in bands with many of the children of North Texas faculty members. David, along with his twin brother, bassist Drew Phelps, attended North Texas, studying with Rich Matheson and guitar guru Jack Peterson, among others. David then traveled to Alberta, Canada where he studied at the Banff Centre with jazz greats Dave Liebman and Dave Holland (both Miles Davis alumni). He also studied with John Abercrombie, Steve Coleman and Kenny Wheeler.
Saxophonist Chris Bacas began his career at age fifteen as a sideman with a club band in York, PA, and after attending North Texas State, he began his jazz performance career in earnest. Beginning in 1983, Chris played in the Glen Miller Band, The Tommy Dorsey Band, the Artie Shaw Band, and Buddy Rich’s legendary Big Band until Rich’s passing in 1987. Over the past twenty years, Chris has appeared at festivals all over the world, including the Nice, North Sea, Cork, Santiago, Montreal, Moers Texaco, Annapolis, JVC New York, and Central PA Jazz Festivals. He has performed in Copenhagen at the Tivoli Gardens; in Los Angeles at The Hollywood Bowl and LA’s Comedy Store; in New York’s Blue Note and Birdland; at Chicago’s Jazz Showcase; and in Washington D.C. at Blues Alley and One Step Down.
In conclusion Percy has this to impart, “Well, I hope people like this record. I have a lot of appreciation for everyone who supported Brand X back in the day, or any of the other projects I was involved in. The band follows on from stuff I’ve done in the past, trying to keep the music unpredictable, interesting and moving in a new direction.”