“What I hope people take away from my music is a glimpse at the person God created me to be, how he designed me to shine through my gifts,” says saxophonist Eldon T Jones.
Jones moves hearts through his profoundly genuine playing and an infectious groove he honed in Portland before becoming a nationally recognized smooth jazz artist and electrifying festival performer.
As a child in a prominent musical family, melody was part of the air Jones breathed. “I fell in love with music by listening to my mother sing. Listening to my uncles playing saxophone in church inspired me to pick up the sax,” Jones says. He began playing saxophone in his church and at Jefferson High School in Portland, where he won awards in classical and jazz. From there, he studied music at Mt. Hood Community College, the pinnacle of jazz education in the Northwest. “As I got into music that resonated with me, Grover Washington, Jr., Wilton Felder (Crusaders), and Kirk Whalum influenced my own playing,” Jones says.
In 1995, Jones brought together young musicians from his neighborhood to form the group N Touch that Portland audiences soon grew to cherish. Their burgeoning local fanbase led to N Touch opening for Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power, receiving glowing praise from musicians in both groups. They even performed at a private event for Michael Jordan. The original N Touch musicians moved on to new projects, and Jones kept the music of N Touch alive in Portland over the years with new members.
As Jones established himself throughout the Northwest, he never disconnected from his community or roots. He often performs at the Oregon Symphony’s Gospel Christmas show and benefit concerts for local organizations. Jones values his role as a mentor and has provided a training ground for outstanding musicians including his brother Anthony Jones (Pink Martini), Chris Turner (Prince), and Darius Fentress (Fred Hammond). In 2017, World Arts Foundation recognized Jones with a Lifetime Achievement Award at their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute for the blessing his music has been to the Portland community.
In 2015, Jones contributed the song “Love Will Find a Way” to the Bespeak Love collaboration, which reached #1 on the UK Soul Chart and was played throughout the US on smooth jazz radio stations. In 2018, the original N Touch members took the Alberta Rose Theatre stage for the sold-out crowd to relive an era. Jones performed the music of his idol, Grover Washington, Jr. at PDX Jazz Festival in 2019 and took the show on the road to Bend, Oregon for three sold-out Jazz at the Oxford concerts in 2020. In 2022, Jones partnered with LaRhonda Steele for a special Juneteenth concert at Alberta Rose Theatre, and he performed at the Vanport Jazz Festival, which is named after the town where his grandparents survived the 1948 flood.
Jones released “T’s Jam” as a single on October 25, 2021, and it peaked at #54 in its 16-week run on the Smooth Jazz Network Top 100. “T’s Jam” also reached #1 on the Groove Jazz Music Most Added chart, and #4 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Most Added chart. The success of “T’s Jam” caught the attention of Jones’s longtime friend and industry wiz Darren Rahn who signed Jones to his label Side 2 Music. Rahn produced Jones’s next singles “Captured by Love,” which hit #30 on the SJNT100, and “Sweet Serenity,” which peaked at #31 on the SJNT100 and #41 on the Mediabase Smooth A/C Chart.
Eldon T Jones is currently preparing to release a new radio single and perform around the US in 2024. “All the wonderful music I hear inspires me to interpret my own life experience through music and share my ideas with the world,” Jones says about his drive to elate new audiences.
Eldon T Jones has appeared on the nationally televised BET Jazz. He has performed with Grammy award-winning singer Yolanda Adams, legendary jazz bassists Leroy Vinegar and Gerald Veasley, the “Godfather of Portland Jazz” drummer Mel Brown, saxophonists Najee, Darren Rahn, and David Pack from Ambrosia, trumpeter Farnell Newton, singer/songwriter Morris Chapman, pianists Jayson Tipp of Under the Lake, Ben Tankard, and Darrell Grant, and vocalist LaRhonda Steele. Jones has recorded with guitarist Walter Finch, children’s artist Red Yarn, singers Ronnie Wright and Alonzo Chadwick, and saxophonist Kevin Moore. He has performed at Jazz Alley (Seattle), Yoshi’s (Oakland), Spaghettini (LA), and Portland venues Jimmy Mak’s, the Alberta Rose Theatre, Jack London Revue, and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
He has performed at The Roots Picnic, Capital Jazz Fest, PDX Jazz Festival, Waterfront Blues Festival, Vanport Jazz Festival, Mt. Hood Jazz Festival, Portland Rose Festival, Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival, Jazz at the Oxford (Bend), Jazz in Hot Springs, Festival Sundiata (Seattle), Sax in the City (Buffalo), Sunday on Jazz (Walla Walla), Oak Harbor Music Festival, and the Jazz and Oyster Festival.
Eldon T Jones endorses Marca Reeds and P. Mauriat and plays a PMXT – 66R tenor saxophone and a System 76 soprano saxophone.
2007: With All My Heart
2015: “Love Will Find a Way” on Bespeak Love
2021: “T’s Jam” Single
2022: “Captured by Love” Single
2023: “Sweet Serenity” Single
2015: “Just as I Am” (Johnnie Ballard)
2018: Gospel Christmas (Live) (choir member, Northwest Community Gospel Chorus with the Oregon Symphony)
2023: “The Get-Together” and “Gotta Lotta Love” (Red Yarn)