Joe Mooney's music has enjoyed something of a rediscovery during the last few years with virtually all his recordings now available. Lush Life (Atlantic, mid-50's) came out a couple of years ago on Koch. Last year the English HEP label reissued his late 40's Decca sessions together with some air checks on a couple of wonderful CD's. This release combines his last two records (Columbia, mid-60's). Personally I wouldn't want to do without any of them.
As a performer Mooney was equal parts vocalist and keyboard player: organ, accordion, and piano in order of preference. He can be seen as part of a tradition that includes Bob Dorough, Blossom Dearie, and the contemporaneous King Cole Trio.
On the first twelve cuts ( The Happiness of ... ) Mooney is backed by rhythm and reeds arranged by Mundell Lowe. The other tunes are by Mooney's classic quartet (with reed, guitar, and bass) plus vibes and whispering drums, both superfluous. Dodgion (flute) and Lowe get a few short solos, but the accompanying musicians mostly stay in the background, professionally reading parts. Lowe's uncluttered reed arrangements with their swinging riffs and clarinet voicings complement the vocals and organ breaks effectively. Mooney's hip lines behind himself especially on organ are always on target.
Mooney's music is notable for humor, swing, good spirits, and surprise. His timing is unmatched. The repertoire here is decent pop tunes of the 60's mixed with earlier vintage standards. Whatever the tune he had a knack for making it his. He overcame trite lyrics and somehow gave them meaning. He would tactfully alter a note here or there, sometimes change words, sometimes shift accents. He would invariably end up with something completely natural sounding and way beyond the original. The ususally stagy, unconvincing "What Kind of Fool Am I" actually makes sense at a bright tempo sung rhetorically with the Mooney touch. He treats Johnny Mandel's "Emily" conversationally over a Latin rhythm with pauses (unnoticeable) The sound is 60's stereo, and it is just fine.
1. Wait Till You See Her 2. But Beautiful, 3. The Second Time Around, 4. I Wish You Love, 5. Call Me Irresponsible, 6. Nobody Else But Me, 7. Once Upon A Summertime, 8. Lollipops And Roses, 9. This Is All I Ask, 10. What Kind Of Fool Am I, 11. Days Of Wine And Roses, 12. The Good Life, 13. Cute, 14. When I Fall In Love, 15. Emily, 16. You Irritate Me So, 17. I Wonder What Became Of Me, 18. Honeysuckle Rose, 19. Happiness Is You, 20. She's Not For You, 21. I Wanna Be Around, 22. When The World Is At Rest, 23. When Sunny Gets Blue, 24. This Is The Life
Joe Mooney - vocal, organ, accordion, piano, arranger; Mundell Lowe - arranger, guitar; Gene Allen, Al Klink, Walt Levinsky, Phil Bodner, Andy Fitzgerald, Don Ashworth, Leon Cohen, Jerry Dodgion - reeds; Gary Burton, Phil Kraus, Joe Venuto - vibes; Barry Galbraith - guitar; George Duvivier - bass; Eddie Shaughnessy - drums.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.