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Our Delight by James Moody and Hank Jones

I am having a deja vue experience. Two years ago, I wrote a review of "two octogenarian jazz masters, one of whom has been recognized as such by the National Endowment for the Arts, and one who deserves to be." The recording in that case was Hank and Frank with Hank Jones and Frank Wess. Happily, the N.E.A. has since done the right thing and recognized Frank as a jazz master. At the induction ceremony, the award was presented to him by his friend, another jazz master of the saxophone and flute, James Moody. Now Hank Jones has teamed up with Moody to produce an equally memorable recording.

Deja vue again. In the previous review, I wrote the following: "This is a fine recording. When asked by a friend what it was like, my immediate response was ‘just what you'd expect.' This was not intended as derogatory in any way because what I expect from these artists is classic, sophisticated, smooth, (in the true sense-not smooth jazz!), swinging, straight down the middle jazz from consummate professionals. This is exactly what Hank and Frank deliver. No surprises, no disappointments." Well, once again, this is exactly what Hank and Moody deliver. No surprises, no disappointments.

Well, perhaps one surprise: that anyone can sound this strong when they are in their eighties. I hope I can still hold a saxophone when I reach that age, never mind play with this level of authority. Like Wess on the previous session, Moody plays tenor throughout except for two tracks featuring his flute work. His flute is nimble, his tenor slightly gruff but always fluid. Jones delivers the same elegant piano work he has contributed to countless recordings over several decades. Coolman (great name for a jazz musician!) contributes solid bass work and the album notes. Nussbaum's drumming is exactly where it needs to be.

An additional dimension to this recording is the presence of two other jazz masters, Dizzy Gillespie and Tadd Dameron, through their compositions. Dizzy is represented by his "Birk's Works" and "Con Alma," with both Moody and Jones taking surefooted paths through the latter's unusual changes. Dameron contributes the title cut, "Lady Bird," "Good Bait," and the beautiful ballad "Soul Trane." In between these selections are other classics. "Body and Soul" is a great vehicle for Moody's tenor. For the flute, Moody contributes his own composition "Darben the Red Foxx," (I'll get back to you when I figure out what that means!) and gives a sensitive reading to another ballad, "Old Folks." Jones is right there all the time; if he doesn't know how to accompany a horn player no one does, and his solos are models of economy and balance.

As if in appreciation for Moody's guest appearance on her own album, Gambarini pops up at the end of this session to add her impeccable vocal styling, including her always impressive scatting, to "Moody's Groove," a tribute to the inimitable James.

Deju vue again! This is how I concluded my review of Hank and Frank "These guys aren't getting any younger so we should cherish whatever they can put out. There is no better example of what the mainstream of jazz is all about." I can't put it any better.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: James Moody and Hank Jones
  • CD Title: Our Delight
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: IPO Recordings
  • Tracks: 1. Our Delight 2. Birks Works 3. Con Alma 4. Ladybird 5. Eternal Triangle 6. Body & Soul 7. Good Bait 8. Darben the Red Foxx 9. Soul Trane 10. Woody' N You 11. Old Folks 12. Moody's Groove.'
  • Musicians: James Moody: tenor saxophone, flute (8 & 11); Hank Jones: piano; Todd Coolman: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums. Roberta Gambarini, vocal, (12)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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