Alphonse Mouzon: The Night Is Still Young
When I first received this autographed copy of Alphonse Mouzon's current release, I was amazed to learn that this multi-instrumentalist had no fewer than eleven solo albums to his credit. Reading the musicians on these albums is like reading the who's who of the contemporary jazz world with artists appearing such as Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn, Lee Ritenour, Stanley Clarke, Russ Freeman, Nathan East, Michael Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, Tom Scott, Ronnie Laws to namedrop with only a few of these superstars who have appeared on his albums.
Mouzon has appeared on most of these artists"albums too. Indeed, like Paulinho DaCosta and Harvey Mason, his talents have been much sought after in a career spanning more than four decades. When you look at the spectrum of instruments that Alphonse plays on this album alone, you will begin to understand why he is in much demand.
The Night Is Still Young is a mix of contemporary and mainstream jazz with the wonderful trumpet playing of Sal Marquez combining with Ernie Watts, Ralph Moore and the excellent Gerald Albright to bring a album of pure delight for jazz fans.
Alphonse performs his faultless time keeping with an effortless strut which blends into the melodies with apparent ease. I was lucky enough to play in bands with some excellent drummers in my time but Mouzon takes the art to another dimension a la Peter Erskine, Steve Gadd and Harvey Mason.
This unassuming gentleman is a family man who adores his family life and his compositions reflect this with tunes like "A Waltz for Emma" and "Daddy's Little Girl," both dedicated to the latest addition to the Mouzon household, baby Emma Alexandra Mouzon. They are both mid-tempo trumpet and sax grooves and reflect the warmth of the whole set.
The musicians perform more straight ahead Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard sounds on "Daddy's Blues" and "Protocol"leaving Alphonse a few moments to remind us that it is his album with "To Drum or Not to Drum"and"Africa"when he lets rip on the skins to loosen the tendons ready for the next recording session. Even his pet parrot Muffy drops by with the odd appropriate bird sound.
"What Are You Doing Later" reminds me of Tania Maria's wonderful "Come With Me" meets Jimmy Smith down at the chicken shack. Alphonse plays a Hammond sounding organ lead which really shows his versatility as a keyboarder."Seduction"moves us into the midnight zone with Gerald Albright on tenor sax joining Alphonse on grand piano for one of the album's outstanding killer cuts.
The groove returns on "The Night Is Still Young" which is a funky excursion of sax and synths and if your bass bins have complained of overload by this stage, it's time to stand by, fasten your seat belts and get ready for lift-off with part two on the very next cut entitled "Slammin.'"
The album's highlights for me being a latin fanatic are the bossa driven "Just Another Samba" which is a mid-tempo cruiser in the Jorge Dalto or Ray Obeido mold with Mouzon playing all of the eight instruments and the excellent "Undulation."
Hats off to a wonderfully tasteful and varied album by a very talented musician.