James Moody 4B – James Moody-tenor saxophone, Kenny Barron-piano, Todd Coolman-bass, Lewis Nash-drums (IPOC1017)
NEA Jazz Master James Moody returns to the recording scene with his sixth appearance on IPO, Moody 4B, the swinging sequel to last year’s critically acclaimed Moody 4A. Made in New York City in July of 2008 the disc marks Moody’s 60th year as a recording artist. Of the many great records that he’s made during those six decades he considers these among his most special. Moody says, “This recording was a total pleasure because producer Bill Sorin let me be me, musically. So many of the previous producers of my albums wanted a “concept.” Well, how about the concept being “Moody”? Bill is wonderful!!” And so is the record. With the spotlight focused on Moody’s brilliant playing, without the demands of trying to squeeze his ingenious improvisations into someone else’s preconceived model, we hear this jazz icon at his imaginative peak, free to be totally creative playing the music he loves the most.
As on Moody 4A the leader is once again reunited with longtime friend and fellow NEA Jazz Master pianist Kenny Barron who first made his mark playing together with the virtuoso saxophonist in his quartet and later upon his recommendation joined the saxist as a member of Dizzy Gillespie’s band. “Kenny is a master and I always love working with him,” Moody says affectionately. “ I first played with him when he was 18 years old and I have loved him ever since. He is a very spiritual person and it comes through in his music.” Joining the pair are bassist Todd Coolman, who Moody says “is like my right hand,” noting their 25 plus years of working together; and drummer Lewis Nash, who has played off and on together with the leader for many years and of whom Moody says “I admire him as a person and a musician.” The leader continues, “Choosing the music was a collaborative effort. I value everyone’s opinion and each musician had input and great suggestions. Of course, Kenny, Lewis and Todd are all masters in their own right and each always contributes greatly to any project in which they are involved.”
In his witty liner notes to the date, Ira’s Gitler, who has been listening to Moody almost since the saxophonist first came to New York way back in the Forties, points out that this follow-up to Moody 4A could be considered “too much of a good thing,” but is really more like “can’t get enough of it.” As on 4A, 4B presents the quartet interpreting, as Gitler notes, a selection of “pearls from the Great American Songbook as well as gems from the Great American Jazz Standards Library.” Moody describes Gitler as “ a walking history book” and says, “reading Ira’s liner notes is like going to school.”
Beginning with Barron’s easy striding piano intro to Billy Strayhorn’s classic Ellington theme “Take The A Train” it’s obvious that the band will be adding its own twists to this familiar material, particularly Moody whose gorgeous tone is in full bloom on the melody and unparalleled technical command of the tenor saxophone (which he plays exclusively on the date, leaving his alto and flute in their cases) is unveiled on his first of many brilliant improvisations that eschew the typical hackneyed chord progressions so common these days in favor of his own inventions which are always full of subtle revelations.
Other selections include a much slower than commonly heard reading of Tadd Dameron’s “Hot House,” affording listeners the opportunity to savor Moody’s sound and ideas, a dancing Latin tinged version of “Speak Low” and a truly stirring rendition of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” demonstrating that at 85 there is no one alive who plays a ballad better than Moody. The quartet’s cha-cha-ish arrangement of “I Love You” keeps things moving. A pair of originals, Coolman’s “O.P.’s Update” and Barron’s “Nikara’s Song,” have the band traveling from classic bebop to Miles and Trane-ish modality. “Along Came Betty” is a swinging tribute to Moody’s fellow octogenarian saxophonist Benny Golson prior to the set closing out with a beautiful version of “But Not For Me.”
James Moody’s output for IPO has been nothing short of astounding. His Our Delight with Hank Jones is a genuine masterpiece comprised of the bebop themes of Gillespie and Dameron. His appearances on the dates One More and One More – The Summary and With Malice Towards None add luster to the music of two of jazz’s greatest composers, Thad Jones and Tom McIntosh, respectively. Moody 4B is a fine addition to the discography where once again he is heard at his very best, just being himself. What a truly great concept – “Moody.”
..:: Source: Jazz Promo Services | TUMS.com ::..