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Moss at Joe's Pub


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Not quite two decades ago, five singular voices came together under the moniker of Moss. A debut at Joe's Pub in New York eventually set the supergroup in motion in public, with a loyal following developing quickly in its wake, and an eponymous album on the Sunnyside imprint, which has since gained status as both a cult and true classic in the vocal jazz world, arrived in 2008.

Moving past that last moment, and the years immediately surrounding it, Moss has produced few sonic spores. Life circumstances and geography, understandably, separated the singers, leaving little time and opportunity to build on the world they established while working as one. But green glimmers of hope have emerged at long intervals, and great enthusiasm and buzz surrounded the announcement of three spring 2024 shows—the first in North Carolina, the second in New York, and the last in London at the Guildhall School's Milton Court Theatre on Friday 14 June.

On, May 26, 2024, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Lauren Kinhan, Jo Lawry (replacing original member Luciana Souza) and Kate McGarry returned to where it all started, presenting their viridescent vocal magic to a highly appreciative audience. Working with a rhythm section including bassist Matt Aronoff and a pair of original Moss-mates—guitarist Keith Ganz and drummer Ben Wittman—this vocal quintet demonstrated a beauty in togetherness that's quite rare to encounter. Intertwining poetic expressions, jazz aesthetics, electronic experimentation (courtesy of Bleckmann's wizardry), folk findings, pop sensibilities and more, Moss embodied all that's right within musical marriages. The ensemble's performance exhibited joy, strength, wit, fragility, heart and wisdom in perfectly balanced proportion(s).

Old favorites flourished in the light of age, time and experience—Moss' signature, expansive use of E.E. Cummings' work on "I Carry Your Heart With Me (I Carry It In)" and a rousing take on Neil Young's "Old Man" proved particularly powerful—and new numbers, including Eldridge's "Sweet Revenge" and his arrangement of James Shipp's moving "GSC," made a serious impact. The entire set, soup to nuts, was a balm for the ears and soul. Less than 24 hours after those sounds ceased, Kinhan took to social media to share heartfelt thoughts about the experience:

Gratitude. It comes in waves in knowing the friendships one makes on your walk on the planet can be steadfast, enduring and so sweetly good. Collaboration is what we reach for, if we're lucky, and caring for those relationships is a practice, just like everything in life. Last night at Joe's Pub, where Moss took flight 17 years ago, was a reminder that if we're paying attention metaphorically, we all create our own Moss, be it duets to expansive symphonies. And watering that fertile soil is where it keeps growing, changing and becoming bigger than...

I am blessed with many Mossy gardens. You are, too.

While it's typically the journalist's job to find the right words to sum everything up, Kinhan honestly said it all—and stated it better than anyone else could—in that excerpt from her post. This writer, who's smart enough to know when to use another's words over his own, was incredibly pleased to finally catch Moss in action after long admiring the group's music on record...and was doubly thrilled to be able to document the moment in photos. Here's a small selection of images captured over the course of the show.
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