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James Moody and Hank Jones: Our Delight: Hank Jones and James Moody

Greg Thomas By

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"Our Delight," penned by Tadd Dameron, is a fitting title for a quartet date fronted by two venerable elder statesmen of jazz, James Moody and Hank Jones. Close listening will surely enchant lovers of acoustic jazz interpretations of timeless songs by Dameron and Dizzy Gillespie, Moody's mentor, dear friend, boss and frontline partner over four decades.

Bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Adam Nussbaum, regulars in Moody's steady group, round out the quartet and give secure support for Jones' customarily tasteful comping and refined improvisations. Jones, 90, is rightfully acclaimed as the dean of jazz pianists and his playing proceeds with the elegance and harmonic sophistication that has made him a favorite accompanist for a who's who of jazz icons since the '40s.

His nuanced, tender touch is perhaps best appreciated on several duets with Moody. On "Old Folks," Jones strolls with grace as Moody plays the melody line softly on flute and increases his comping volume slightly as Moody solos. "Body and Soul," a ballad highlight, finds Jones accenting with implied stride grooves underneath Moody's tenor sax and taking a brief solo replete with references to the Swing and bop vocabulary. Moody has been a master soloist since he arrived on the scene 60+ years ago, as evidenced by "Moody's Mood for Love," immortalized by King Pleasure's vocalese lyrics. His ebullient performance on the title cut as well as on his own "Darben the Red Foxx" transforms the blues into a smile of dawn.

Most of the compositions, such as Dizzy Gillespie's minor blues "Birk's Works" and Tadd Dameron's "Lady Bird" are in the medium tempo range, the major exception Sonny Stitt's high velocity "Eternal Triangle," where Moody's emphatic runs are tempered by Jones' dramatic rhythmic arcs, providing listeners with an aural rainbow of colors.

Some may make the claim that the final cut, Jimmy Heath's "Moody's Groove," with vocals by Roberta Gambarini, is somewhat out of place. She's a favorite of Moody and Jones for her fresh lyrical approach and fidelity to the changes while scatting. Heath's tribute to Moody is sweet, as is Roberta Gambarini's singing and so only adds to the overall delight.

Track Listing: Our Delight; Birk's Works; Con Alma; Lady Bird; Eternal Triangle; Body and Soul; Good Bait; Darben the Red Foxx; Soul Trane; Woody 'N You; Old Folks; Moody's Groove.

Personnel: James Moody: tenor saxophone, flute; Hank Jones: piano; Todd Coolman: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.

Title: Our Delight: Hank Jones and James Moody | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: IPO Recordings

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