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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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JAMES MOODY

Moody 4B

IPOC 1017

 

 

  1. Take the 'A' Train
  2. Hot House
  3. Speak Low
  4. Polka Dots and Moonbeams
  5. I Love You
  6. O.P. Update
  7. Nikara's Song
  8. Along Came Betty
  9. But Not For Me

James Moody (tenor saxophone)
Kenny Barron (piano)
Todd Coolman (bass)
Lewis Nash (drums)
rec. July 2008, Avatar Studios, NYC

 

Moody fans will know two things. Firstly that their man is now 85, and that this disc derives from the sessions that gave us the previous album Moody 4A a while back. Its successor album is a successor in name only. The songs were recorded at the same time and they show, obviously, no diminution from the earlier released album. Moody is, as ever, a marvel, still a compelling soloist and tonalist, still a purveyor of articulate bop, still an orator whose texts are cut from the finest cloth.

Mixed metaphors aside, we have an hour long set of nine cuts. The quartet is an ensemble of no weak links. One could hardly think so given that Kenny Barron is the pianist, Lewis Nash the drummer and - not at all outclassed - Todd Coolman is the bassist. Each song has features of interest. Note Kenny Barron's homage to Ellington in Take the `A' Train where his lagging left hand, and Stride credentials, are evident. Note too the way Moody bustles in, increasing the tempo at will. The group takes Hot House at a relaxed lope and at nine minutes there's time to stretch out and admire the harmonic scenery. Moody's range of colours and effects range from a chesty squawk to a falsetto honk. Speak Low is treated to a sassy Latin rhythm - swinging piano, subtle drumming, an elegant Moody solo but an unfortunate fade ending. The group's penchant for Latin approaches can also be heard in I Love You So where the shifting beat compels interest. Barron and Moody are excellent here, Coolman somewhat less so in his solo.

Ballads are not spurned, and Moody explores the lower register well on Polka Dots and Moonbeams. Barron is crisp and ultra-romantic on his own Nikara's Song where his chording is especially rich. I think that the exchanges between Coolman and Nash on Benny Golson's Along Came Betty are fine enough without Ira Gitler, in his note, lapsing into stuff about a `hip conversation' between them. The 60s are over, Ira. How clever though for Nash to be so witty on his brushwork in the last track, But Not For Me where Barron mines from the Book of Funk and Moody captivates with charm.

This beautifully recorded disc captures the quartet with absolute fidelity.

Jonathan Woolf



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