Whether Jeff Coffin’s ensemble Mu’tet are washed away by the lithesome passing of Coffin’s breezy saxophone glides or latch onto grand-slam ragtime riverboat jamborees, Mu’tet’s buffet of jazz styles roll through a gamut of moods on their latest CD Mutopia. Produced by Coffin, Mutopia has instruments that chirp, wail, chuckle, wince, whistle, and make any other sound known to nature. Mutopia is Coffin’s fourth solo album on Nashville-based Compass Records and features bassist Felix Pastorius, keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge, and banjo player Bela Fleck to name a few guest musicians on the recording. Mutopia is not only Jeff Coffin’s vision but a collaborative effort where everyone partakes in its montage.
The acid-jazz fumes of "Tag" are buffered by Sun Ra-like bays of keyboards which tie into the sprigs of flowering flutes along "Al’s Greens." The clanking bass beats made by Alana Rocklin in "Bubble Up" are frocked in classic jazz motifs and bangles of jangly banjo hooks by Bela Flecks with studs of twinkling effects enhancing the melodic shimmers. "One In, One Out" is a tribute to jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and the Boogaloo-jazz craze of the ‘60s, as instruments casually mingle together thriving through the gentle quivers and fizzling flagellates. The slow winding pathways of "Turiva": are inflamed by chirping flutes and agile piano keys commemorating pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane, while the fleet of exotic horns in "L’Esperance" pollinate into avant textures which are loosely moored by circling drumbeats. The slinky strut of "Sweet Magnolias" has a burlesque feel with lithesome squiggles and sensual strokes contrasting the upbeat ragtime zing of "Move Your Rug" featuring a jumble of flustering chords by trumpeter Rod McGaha, trombonist Roy Agee, and Joe Murphy on sousaphone. The echoing channels along "Emma Ya" undergo shapeshifting phases from reggae to acid-jazz patterns. It is the only composition inspired by "The Sirius Mystery," an elusive third star of the Sirius System.
Jeff Coffin’s Mu’tet provide a mix of classic and experimental jazz complexes on their latest release Mutopia. By allowing their melodic patterns to mutate into new forms of music, Mu’tet show an open mind in their interplay while clutching traditional values. The album moves the ensemble forward without compromising their attachment to old-school jazz.