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Does guitarist Mundell Lowe ever have moods that are less than agreeable? Surely he must — but not on this album. Here, Mundell’s Moods are consistently sunny and upbeat, designed to put a smile on anyone’s face and a spring in his or her step. Even the ballads (“Darn That Dream,” “Body and Soul”) seem more lighthearted than blue, thanks to the stubbornly cheerful nature of Lowe and his companions, the versatile Hendrik Meurkens (on vibes or harmonica), pianist Larry Porter, bassist Pat O’Leary and drummer Chuck Redd. If the seventy–nine year old Lowe has mislaid any of his enthusiasm or technique, it’s certainly not apparent; on the contrary, he seems to be having a wonderful time affirming his mastery in every tempo and groove. The program is a well–balanced blend of originals (two by Meurkens, one each by Lowe, Porter and Redd), standards (besides those already mentioned, Jule Styne’s “You Say You Care,” Noel Coward’s “I’ll Follow My Secret Heart”) and Jazz benchmarks (Sy Oliver’s “Opus 1,” Miles Davis’ “Seven Steps to Heaven”). Meurkens, sounding much like Toots Thielemans (who doesn’t?), plays harmonica three selections, Larry Bunker–like vibes on another half–dozen, and sits out “Darn That Dream,” “Seven Steps” and “You Say You Care.” His compositions, “Windy Wendy” and “Mundell’s Mood,” which open the album, are delightful. Porter, a late addition to the lineup, comps effectively (relieving Meurkens of that duty) and solos brightly on his airy bossa, “Shoreway,” and elsewhere. O’Leary has his moments on “Mundell’s Mood,” “Please Let the Sun Come Out Again” and “Opus 1,” Redd on “Seven Steps” and “You Say You Care,” and everyone solos on the album’s high–kicking finale, “There Is No Greater Love.” At an age when most men would be happy to be able to get out of bed in the morning and read a newspaper, Mundell Lowe (with some help from his talented friends) continues to make wonderful music. More power to him.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.