James Moody and Hank Jones Quartet: Our Delight (2008)
Both artists have been witness (and contributors) to the history of jazz. Jones played music in the hotbed of Detroit as did his brothers Thad and Elvin, then there were the many years accompanying Ella Fitzgerald. His 'solo' career of the last thirty years has elevated him into the living legend category. Likewise James Moody, who might best be known as a songwriter and sideman to Dizzy Gillespie. His encyclopedic jazz brain has probably stored more music than most artists will ever learn.
Although they did play together on Great Day (Argo, 1963), the intersection of these two rarely happened. Their common denominator here is the music of Dizzy Gillespie, which they reinvestigate with the joyfulness of a welcome home party.
With capable drummer Adam Nussbaum and Todd Coolman, perhaps Dizzy's favorite bassist aboard, the ride certainly is a smooth one. The music of mostly familiar tunes allows you to delight in the assuredness and bliss of the session.
Moody's saxophone playing is like his fellow Baha'i mentor Dizzy Gillespie, always perfect. After Hank Jones' brief introduction on the blues "Birk's Works," the saxophonist states the theme with tremendous ease. Then he is on to a complicated improvisation that follows with such fluency, you might be fooled into believing this is simple music. It is anything but simple, and likewise Hank Jones who has made a career out of an economy of notes, his brand of jazz sounding simple.
The Tadd Dameron track "Good Bait" spills its infectious theme into a tasteful and quiet solo by Nussbaum. Jones takes a hesitative solo here, as he seemingly has done so in his whole career. His preference is to support his fellow players, not hog the spotlight. When he is not playing in a trio or perhaps solo, sometimes listeners can overlook his contributions. On the duo "Body And Soul" this is not possible. Sure, this track has been recorded thousands of times, but it may be the highlight of this recording. Moody's saxophone is both a nod to Coleman Hawkins and, well, James Moody. Jones' contribution, although brief, maintains the spirit and character of the moment.
The disc ends with Italian vocalist Roberta Gambarini's take on "Moody's Groove." The vocalist, a favorite of Jones, who has accompanied her in concert and record of late, sings with a clarity much treasured in jazz. Her scatting fits comfortably with our two heroes' approach.
Track Listing: Our Delight; Birk's Works; Con Alma; Ladybird; Eternal Triangle; Body & Soul; Good Bait; Darben the Red Foxx; Soul Trane; Woody' N You; Old Folks; Moody's Groove.
Personnel: James Moody: tenor saxophone and flute (11); Hank Jones: piano; Todd Coolman: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.
Record Label: IPO Recordings