Here is proof that there is life after the age of 80.
When this album was recorded in June 2006, James Moody and Hank Jones
were both octogenarians, yet there is no sign that the ageing process
has had any effect on these two marvellous veterans.
James Moody, of course, is best known for his long
association with Dizzy Gillespie, while Hank Jones has recorded with
almost everyone you can think of - although seldom, before this session,
with James Moody. The two work sympathetically with one another, reliably
supported by the bass and drums of Todd Coolman and Adam Nussbaum.
The bassist plays several well-constructed solos which are actually
audible (unlike many bass solos). And Adam Nussbaum adds substantially
to the dynamism of several tracks - for instance, in the opening title-track
with a punchy drum solo.
James Moody also still has plenty of punch in his tenor-sax
playing. More than half the tracks are compositions by his former
employers: Dizzy Gillespie and Tadd Dameron, and James obviously
feels at home in such numbers as Gillespie's Birk's Works and
Dameron's Good Bait. In Gillespie's Con Alma, Moody's
tone is almost Getzian, although we are reminded of his irreverence
by a cheeky quotation midway through his solo. He also displays his
fluency on flute in the jazz standard Old Folks and his own
composition Darben the Red Foxx (no, I have no idea what it
I have sometimes found Hank Jones's laid-back style
insufficiently stimulating but his relaxed approach suits the slower
numbers here. On the faster tunes, he seems to have caught some of
James Moody's vivacity, although his approach is still tasteful rather
than tearaway. However, while James Moody struggles a bit with the
speed of Eternal Triangle, Jones seems more at home and goes
at it confidently. Both men are happy with the ballad Body and
Soul, where James uses vibrato and breathiness to conjure up emotion.
Hank adds a solo which is swinging as well as lyrical.
The album ends with a gratifying vocal from Roberta
Gambarini (see my review of her recording with Hank Jones on: www.musicweb-international.com/jazz/2007/Gambarini_0602517370678.htm).
Roberta sings Jimmy Heath's Moody's Groove, a well-deserved
paean of praise for James Moody.