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First recording together in over 50 years by two of the greatest performers in the history of modern jazz.
For over six decades, saxophone master James Moody has serenaded lovers with his signature song "Moody's Mood for Love", an improvisation on the chord progressions of "I'm in the Mood for Love." In 1946, he joined the seminal bebop big band of Dizzy Gillespie, which included Milt Jackson, Kenny Clark, Ray Brown, and Thelonius Monk. His now-legendary 16-bar solo on Gillespie's "Emanon" alerted jazz fans to an emerging world-class soloist.
NEA Jazz Master and legendary pianist Hank Jones is one of the last surviving jazz greats. In over seventy years as a jazz pianist and composer, his playing style has embodied the essence of mainstream jazz, making him one of the most sought after and recorded jazz pianists in history.
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Hank Jones, age 90, is also in fine form. His comping seems perfect, while his soloing is as inspiring as ever. Like Moody, Jones shows no sign of declining skill or energy.
The rest of the group, Coolman and Nussbaum, plays at a consistently high level. These four jazz cats are truly world class and a joy to hear.
While all 12 tracks are wonderful, my favorite is Body and Soul. While this tune has been recorded countless times, Moody makes it sound brand new.
If you truly love jazz at its finest, this album is a must for your collection.
I give this album 5 stars!
James Moody occupied the same bandstand as all of the other heroic prophets who comprised the company of saints at Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase back in the '70s and '80s: Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Lockjaw Davis, Zoot and Al, Stanley Turrentine, Clifford Jordan--just to name a few. And it was Moody--not Bird, Diz, Bud, Clifford Brown--who recorded an improvised solo on "I'm in the Mood for Love" in Sweden in 1949 that inspired the first of the vocalese transcriptions that would lead to the popularity of King Pleasure, Eddie Jefferson, Lambert Hendricks Ross, Manhattan Transfer.
It was Hank Jones who preceded Oscar Peterson as "house pianist" for Norman Granz on the annual Jazz at the Philharmonic tours and, later, as the favorite accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald. If there were really such a thing as justice, both men would be household words in the country of their birth, commemorated by national holidays, consulted prior to all artistic endeavors, depicted on postage stamps, hired as advisors to the President in national educational initiatives.
To the tiny percentage of the population aware of these living giants, these two afford to us all an opportunity to give thanks for a lifetime well-spent by story-teller and listener alike. Moody is still at the top of his game and would sound better were it not for the incontrovertible fact that, in our culture, he's still required to show that he has something to prove. Hank Jones still has the fingers, the touch, the ear--slowed down by a nano-second in that flood of decisions that the improvising artist must make. The pedal is more in play and the tone, consequently, a bit "muddier" than it was in the past.
As the program shows, these two have decided not to relax in their senior hours, as they tackle the same challenging improvisational vehicles that distinguished their work in their salad days.
Please listen to Birk's Works. Amazing!
Listen to James' amazing flute rendition of "Old Folks". One of my all time favorites.
I play sax, and during open jam sessions, a game is played among the improvisers. It is called a "cutting contest". The aim is to out perform everyone else on the stand with your instrumental pyrotechnics. Well Moody carries a might axe here (no pun intended). This guy is fabulous. No one would stand a chance!
Hank Jones is has been putting it together forever. Now in his nineties, he is as formidable as ever. He has been the back bone of many significant small groups through the years. Fluid and melodic, his ability to swing is aptly demonstrated here.
This is an album you really should add to your collection.