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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

4B

IPO Recordings 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 sax
Kenny Barron - Piano
Todd Coolman - Bass
Lewis Nash - Drums

 

James Moody's struggle with pancreatic cancer ended on December 9, 2010 when he died just three months short of his 86th birthday. Moody was one of the last, if not the last, of those great tenor players whose links went back to the bebop era and Dizzy Gillespie's Big Band of 1946.

While his achievements were many, Moody was probably best known for his composition Moody's Mood For Love, which was based on the chord changes of I'm in the Mood For Love. On his instrument, Moody was a mellow-tone tenor man who could swing with the best. One of his last recording sessions produced this CD 4B, and its companion offering 4A, both released on IPO Recordings.

Surrounding himself with top-notch rhythmic support, Moody delves into his vast repertoire of well-known standards, and a couple of original tunes, to offer a recording worthy of understandable praise. Opening with Duke Ellington's Take the "A" Train, with a surprising few bars intro by Kenny Barron, Moody picks up the theme with his cool sax lines, showing his familiarity with the meaning of the tune. The Kurt Weill/Ogden Nash oft-recorded Speak Low is delivered with a Latin twist, allowing Moody to colour the melody, but watch out for Barron and Lewis Nash who deliver the goods.

Polka Dots and Moonbeams is the longest cut on the disc with the group making the most of this ballad. Moody is soulfully animated, with Barron offering just the right accompaniment, and Nash showing his brilliant brush work. Moving on to Cole Porter's I Love You, which the group offers in a Latin theme, Moody again lays the groundwork with assertion, and both he and Barron provide a counterpoint on Porter's musical premise. A couple of band members deliver original compositions, with bassist Todd Coolman`s piece O. P. Update and the Kenny Barron tune Nikara's Song. The former is a tribute to bassist Oscar Pettiford, where Coolman makes the most of his solo space, and the latter showcases Barron's impeccable taste and delightful playing.

The album closes with two jazz favourites. Firstly, the Benny Golson tune Along Came Betty, which he wrote when he was part of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. The group gives the tune a standard reading, but with some fine interplay between Coolman and Nash. The George & Ira Gershwin perennial But Not for Me puts paid to a worthy session.

4B has been nominated for a 2010 Grammy as Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group with the ceremony taking place on February 13, 2011. Winning the award would be a fitting memorial to a great jazz player.

Pierre Giroux

See also review by Jonathan Woolf



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