The primacy of live performance coupled with the reality that there just aren’t that many labels willing to front the bread for creative improvised music has led to a dearth of entries in Jemeel Moondoc’s discography. Studio dates for the saxophonist are a rarity and it’s for this reason that his pairing with Eremite makes so much sense and has proven so fruitful. Eremite’s most common medium is live performance and a large portion of the label’s catalog features music culled from the annual Fire In the Valley Festival. Likewise Moondoc is at his best in the throes of impromptu divination achievable in front of an appreciative audience. Taped direct to two-track six weeks after the session that marked Moondoc’s debut on the label this disc delivers a complete set by the trio replete with encore. A quick four-count by the leader that symbolically breaks the tethers and it’s time for a collective lift off. For the next three quarters of an hour all three players ride the crest of a spontaneously combusting gust of energy that makes the minutes melt away.
Cook and Voigt bustle back and forth between volcanic eruptions and quieter dispersions, and Moondoc’s sound is similarly varied between raw, raucous honks and elongated, emotionally charged lines. Cook works his cymbals and snare like pinball flippers continually buffeting a gleaming percussive ball into innumerable rhythmic nooks and crannies and racking up copious points along the way. Voigt’s method is more manic as he juggles bow and fingers in a continuous rough caress of his strings. His solo near the ten-minute mark makes the fingers ache just thinking about the tensile strength required to pluck such incessantly demanding patterns. For his part Moondoc dances a woolly jig atop the variegated rhythmic verdure liberally adding splashes of his own melodic paint to the collective canvas. At one point saxophone and stringently sawed bass meet in an acrimonious embrace upended by Moondoc’s vocal cries. At another a viscous bass pulse oozes beneath Moondoc’s sprightly upper-register musings and Cook offers terse stick-driven commentary in response. This is a trio so multifaceted in their approach that the possibility of boredom is summarily abolished as soon they raise their instruments. Doubt the veracity of such a claim? Just take a listen. The clamorous ninety-second encore is the proverbial maraschino on top.
Those souls fortunate enough to witness this concert came away with an earful. Thanks to the diligent efforts of Eremite the day lives on and can be marveled at by an audience of global proportions. Here’s hoping that ever widening numbers of these world citizens acquire an awareness of the pearls awaiting them in the translucent depths of this music and decide to take the plunge.
Tracks:Fire In the Valley/ Encore.
Players:Jemeel Moondoc- alto saxophone; Laurence Cook- percussion; John Voigt- bass.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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