Thursday, September 17, 2009

James Moody Still Has It After 60 Years

James Moody. Here's an artist that established himself as a prime exponent of the Bop tenor (with Dizzy Gillespie's band) and has been going strong ever since. More than 60 years on the stand, in the studios. . . .That's amazing enough.

But listen to his latest album, 4A (IPO). He sounds beautiful. Those sixty years of blowing bop have acted like a giant musical sieve. All superfluous notes have been sifted out and what's left is pure Moodybop.

He's joined on this recording with some stellar players that dig in to give him the support and collaboration due a master. Kenny Barron's piano is another one of those near iconic presences on the jazz scene. He went through the Dizzy school of bop too, a little later in the game, and plays today as well as ever. It is a treat to hear the two of these players interact. Doubtless things might not have turned out so swingingly if it weren't for the presence of bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Lewis Nash. All the better to set up Moody's mood for blowing.

The group runs through a program of American songbook and jazz standards, like "'Round Midnight," "East of the Sun," and "Stablemates." There's also a nice Kenny Barron composition.

Hearing James Moody playing so well is an experience akin to having Abraham Lincoln still around to re-deliver the Gettysburg Address with undiminished oratory power. (Well, maybe not exactly, but you get the idea.) It's living history, but it's not history so much as it is living. It's history to come. Later for the history.

Catch Mr. Moody now if you can. And listen to this CD. You'll be the better for it.

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