Flautist, bandleader and composer Gerald Beckett
picks up on Mood
where he left off from 2017's Oblivion
(Summit), a stellar collection of songs by Miles Davis
, Ellis Marsalis
, Astor Piazzolla
, Gerry Mulligan
and other great jazz composers. Beckett wrote several new originals for his new Mood
, including personal remembrances of hometown haunts such as "Club Raven" and an "Ode to Ray Wood," and sets them among compositions by Wynton Marsalis
, Ron Carter
and a trio of American pianists. "My own songs reflect events that are a part of my life's journey," Beckett explains. "The others are songs that have caught my ear over the years." Mood
strikes a big and warm old-school acoustic sound and hits it right from the opening "Down Low." "Composing this song brought to mind the many 'juke joints' once owned by relatives and family friends," writes Beckett in the notes to "Down Low." Beckett's flute sounds strong, supple and sure as it swings and sings this sweet and funky groove. "Down Low" places Beckett in the lineage of classic jazz flutists, and in an instant. It's hard to imagine a more effective opening tune than this.
"Ode to Ray Wood," paints Beckett's sonic portrait of the wooded "place where we as a family made many frequent visits to my mother's many relatives": Horns sound the peal of a train whistling down a distant track as rustling percussion brings out animal sounds of the night. Beckett's flute rises up and flutters against the sky, a bird singing a reflective nightsong which meanders like a country stroll in familiar woods that you're in no particular hurry to pass through. Noah Frank slips into a trumpet solo dripping with soul, blues and funk to close down the night.
"Ode to Ray Wood" so profoundly evokes the sound of Yusef Lateef
's Atlantic Records catalog that I literally looked up and listened to Lateef's classic "In the Evening," featuring pianist Kenny Barron
, while writing this review of Mood
. Barron is also one of three American pianist-composers surveyed here, represented by "Spirit Song."
"Minor Funk" (Cyrus Chestnut
) maintains five furious minutes of the angular, helter-skelter sound, especially during its piano and sharp-edged alto sax solos, that led many early detractors to deride be-bop as "Chinese music." Beckett leads the ensemble into burning down "John Neely-Beautiful People," its bass and drums crackling through the rhythm like consuming fire behind a bright but blue piano solo that winks at Thelonious Monk
's "Well, You Needn't." "This hard-swinging song, recorded in 1970 on (Harold) Mabern's album Greasy Kid Stuff
, in my opinion should be a jazz standard," Beckett suggests in his notes.
Down Low; Spirit Song; Doom; John Neely–Beautiful People; Club Raven; Waterfalls; Shacktown; Minor Funk; Ode To Ray Wood.