Thursday, May 27, 2010

James Moody - Moody 4B (IPO Recordings, 2010)

Saxophonist James Moody (who is also a great flute player, just not on this album) is well into his eighth decade, and still making wonderful music. Moody has been at the forefront of mainstream jazz since the bebop era and he brings all of the wisdom and experience he has gained to a set of standards (and a few originals) recorded the day after his successful predecessor Moody 4A. Accompanied on this album by Kenny Barron on piano, Todd Coolman on bass and Lewis Nash on drums, the music exudes class and dignity mixing in equal measure cookers, ballads and mid-tempo groovers. Opening with a genial and swinging version of Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train" the band really sets the tone for the album. Coolman and Nash provide a huge pocket, playing a wonderfully supportive role with great compassion. Barron is the perfect pianist for this setting, accompanying Moody with beautiful and subtle chords and soloing with discriminating taste. The ballads played by the band are quite tasteful and patient, the standard "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and Kenny Barron's original "Nikara's Song" move slowly, allowing the band to gently probe the length and breadth of the songs. Moody plays with great melodic sense, telling a story with each of his solos and never overplaying. They swing the tempos back up with versions of "Swing Low" and Benny Golson's classic composition "Along Came Betty." This was a very well played relaxed and easy going album of straight ahead jazz. Moody's beautiful tone on tenor saxophone is the centerpiece, as it should be, and the rhythm section is tasteful and supportive, making for relaxed and swinging music throughout.