James Moody – The Blues And Other Colors (1969)
THE BLUES AND OTHER COLORS
Original release 1969 (Milestone MSP 9023)
OJC Reissue 1997
1. Main Stem
2. Everyone Needs It
3. Savannah Calling
4. A Statement
5. Gone Are The Days
6. Feeling Low
7. You Got To Pay
8. Old Folks
Tracks 1, 4, and 8
James Moody: flute, soprano sax
Johnny Coles: trumpet, flugelhorn
Tom McIntosh: trombone
Joe Farrel; alto flute, oboe, alto sax
Cecil Payne: baritone sax
Kenny Barron: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Freddy Waits: drums
Tracks 2 and 3
add Sam Brown – electric guitar, Ben Tucker (acoustic and electric bass) replaces Ron Carter
James Moody: flute
Britt Woodman: trombone
Jim Buffington: french horn
Linda November: voice
Alfred Brown: viola
Charles McCracken: cello
Kermit Moore: cello
Dick Katz: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Connie Kay: drums
Recorded August 14, 1968; January 3, 1969, and February 11, 1969
Produced by Dick Katz and Orrin Keepnews.
Recording engineer – George Sawtelle
Digitally remastered by Kirk Felton (1997, Fantasy Sound Studios, Berkeley, California).
Well this is an odd little record. James Moody’s body of work is kind of all over the place but somewhere between Dizzy Gillespie, his Argo albums, and his Perception Records albums, he found time to make a handful of records for the Milestone label. This one, recorded with two entirely different ensembles (except for Ron Carter, who is the common denominator of all jazz equations, apparently*). It runs the gamut from modern jazz, hard bop, and toe-tapping soul jazz. A lot of it is the sound of a small band playing big band arrangements courtesy of trombonist Tom McIntosh, who dropped out of jazz shortly after these sessions. And the arrangements here are always interesting. The dissonant soul treatment of Ellington’s “Main Stem” is a gem The summer stroll through a city park that is “Everybody Needs It” is lovely. The jazz combo + chamber ensemble idea works well on this record, better than his Moody With Strings album on Argo, for example. And considering that the album is culled from two sessions separated by six months, it holds together as a long player. About the only weak spot for me is “Gone Are The Days,” a deconstruction of Stephen Foster that was probably intended as sociomusical critique but ends up being just kind of forced. (I was somewhat surprised to see that it scored so favorably on the liner notes, both of the reissue and the original release). Maybe it doesn’t work for me because it seems to be trying so hard to make a statement, and pales before the previous track, ironically titled “A Statement,” which is truly breathtaking.
The presence of frequent collaborator Johnny Coles is welcome here, as is Cecil Payne. Kenny Baron plays capably. Holding down the drum throne are future M’Boom member Freddie Waits and MJQ stalwart Connie Kay.
The last batch of compositions feature wordless vocals by one Linda November. Her calendar-girl name sounded vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place it, so I looked her up. Alongside her credits as a pop backup singer, she more famous as the anonymous voice of TV jingles like the Meow Mix song and the “I’d Like To Give The World A Coke” song. I have no idea how she ended up on this record. Even when it’s awkward it still works, though, like on the McIntosh composition “You Got To Pay,” which I happened to have played recently on one of my freeform radio hours. The one fact that might legitimately scare some people off is that Moody eschews alto and tenor sax for soprano for the first half and stays on flute for all of the second half. I happen to love jazz flute but it drives some people crazy for reasons I refuse to comprehend so don’t even bother trying to explain it to me.
* There is an equation for predicting the probability of Ron Carter appearing on any given album. Take the year of release, add the catalog number (substituting numerological values for any letters), divide by the number of tracks, and multiply by 100.
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