Saxophonist James Moody has been riding an inspiring late career renaissance, playing live regularly and recording as well. This is a beautifully relaxed session of swinging classic jazz, mostly taken at a gentle mid-tempo. Moody sticks to tenor saxophone for the most part with Kenny Barron on piano, Todd Coolman on bass and Lewis Nash on drums. The selections on this albums are heavy on well-known standards and, two ballads are very well played, "'Round Midnight" and "East of the Sun" have Moody distilling a career's worth of patience and experience into beautiful improvisations. They move the pace of the music to a more brisk mid-tepmo on Benny Golson's "Stablemates" and Barron's own "Voyages," but for the most part, the band keeps this at a simmer and the quality of the music remains high throughout. Coolman and Nash are a tight ryhthm section, alternately keeping the music moving along and caressing the melodies, they are an excellent backbone for the music on this album. Barron is the ideal partner for James Moody with his thoughtful melodicism and sprightly improvising during solo spots. But the focus is squarely on Moody throughout, his imperturbability is amazing, regardless of tempo or setting he plays with restraint and self-control. Highly recommended for fans of classic bop based mainstream jazz, it's a class act. Moody 4A - amazon.com
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John Butcher - Nigemizu (Uchimizu, 2015) ****½
53 minutes ago