Mark Moultrup: Dar Cho (2009)
Chicago pianist Mark Moultrup embraces the Tibetan spiritual call for spreading good will and compassion to all known as Dar Cho, the Tibetan word for "prayerflag," and dedicates this new musical project to the same cause. An innovative composer and vocalist, Moultrup fashions a cleaver session of modern and mainstream jazz through a landscape of ten new originalssome sprinkled with a touch of bebop and elements of light classical music, and rounding out the repertoire with new interpretations of three familiar standards. Marked by rich modern harmonies and odd time signatures, the music is exceptionally diverse and challenging, with no two pieces sounding alike.
While the recording is replete with examples of Moultrup's talents on the keys, it's also obvious that the pianist likes to sing, which he does on a good portion of the album. Possessing a fine voice but certainly no Frank Sinatra, the pianist sings a lively upbeat version of "Come Fly with Me" and delivers an expected gentler rendition of the Sinatra favorite "Summer Wind." The major difference with Moultrup's versions are, of course, the tasteful piano solos, making them much jazzier than the straight vocals often heard. His vocals lend energy to other pieces, including Antonio Carlos Jobim' standard, "Corcovado"; the creative mainstream burner "What About"; the jumpy "Avant Garlic"; and the beautiful balladic "It Has Always Been You."
All is not left to songs however, as there is a fair share of instrumental pieces where Moultup proceeds to demonstrate his appreciable chops and gift for writing, with a slew of very entertaining tunes. There's a bit of funk on "Burger in the Bush," along with the traditional jazz sounds at the beginning of "When Then Was Now," introduced with a tinge of classical style. In fact, there are several compositions that meld elements of jazz with classical flavorings, including "Ted's Last Song," "Waltz" and "Of A Dream," all of which contain marvelous performances from the pianist.
Bassist Rodney Whitaker, saxophonist/flautist John Wojciechowski and drummer George Fludas join Moultrup as his core crew, while others appear sparingly. Dar Cho may not be easy to define, considering the mix of vocals, instrumentals and blend of varying genres encountered. But its variety is the album's major asset, as Moultrup offers slices of many genres, tastefully wrapped in a nice package of jazz that's worth unwrapping often.
Track Listing: When Then Was Now; Corcovado; What About; Ted's Last Song; Good Will in the Wind; Avant Garlic; Waltz; Of a Dream; It Has Always Been You; Burger in the Bush; Come Fly With Me; Summer Wind; I Know It's Only Be Bop.
Personnel: Mark Moultrup: piano, vocals; Rodney Whitaker: bass; George Fludas: drums; John Wojciechowski: tenor saxophone, flute; Kurt Sweitz: arco bass (8); Michael Levin: flute (5); Ernie Adams: percussion (5).
Record Label: Self Produced