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Moon Germs is one of the few true jazz albums put out by CTI, a label whose artists gravitated towards the commercial possibilities of soul jazz, primarily to put food on the table. It’s a jaw dropper, one of the truly classic albums from the era. Farrell, known primarily for his work with Elvin Jones in the sixties and Chick Corea in the early seventies, has wisely recruited three up and comers from the new fusion scene for a session that proves every bit as intriguing as the truly bizarre cover.
Moon Germs features a wealth of styles, often within the space of one song; “Great Gorge”, for instance, starts off in prime CTI fashion with a funky head that wouldn’t be out of place on a George Benson album before blasting off into a breathless free jazz middle section. Clarke’s galloping bass lines combine with Dejohnette’s machine gun drumming while Hancock tries (almost in vain) to hold everything together with a few electric keyboard jabs. “Gorge” is the highlight of the album, but the other three tunes aren’t far behind, including a tune borrowed from Chick Corea (Farrell’s partner in Return to Forever) and “Bass Folk Song”, a lovely melody composed by Clarke that is also an excellent showcase for his dexterity.
Those who despise fusion would do well to pick up this album, for it may very well change their opinion; Moon Germs won’t be removed from your CD player anytime soon.
Track Listing: Great Gorge; Moon Germs; Time's Lie; Bass Folk Song.
Personnel: Joe Farrell-soprano sax, flute; Herbie Hancock-keyboards; Stanley Clarke-bass; Jack DeJohnette-drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.