James Moody (as), Howard McGhee, Paul Serrano (tp), Bernard McKinney, John Avant (tb), Musa Kaleem (bs), Sonny Donaldson, Kenny Barron (p), Steve Davis, Ernest Oulaw (b), Arnold Enlow, Marshall Thompson (d), Eddie Jefferson (vcl)
Reference: FSRCD 846
Bar code: 8427328608466
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James Moody's full-bodied sound on tenor was always original and hard swinging, but as he demonstrated leading these fine small bands, he felt equally at home playing alto sax or flute.
Cookin the Blues, the first album here, features his septet recorded live at the Jazz Workshop in June 1961, during his tour on the West Coast. Moody, wonderfully relaxed and in good form, fronts a band (with trumpeter Howard McGhee in his come back to the coast) offering inspired performances and more musical content than groups with a bigger name. Eddie Jefferson was also was one of the moving forces behind the whole show, with his humorous, and happily frantic singing.
All seven songs in Another Bagthe second album of this compilationare excellent originals. Tom McIntosh, arranger on the date, contributed five, with his craftsmanship throughout distinguished by skillful voicings, interesting harmonic structures and beautiful melodies, somewhat reminiscent of the writing of Tadd Dameron and Gigi Gryce. Besides a forceful and driving Moody, the group features the consistently effective Paul Serrano on trumpet and the excellent solo and comping of pianist Kenny Barron.
"Two LPs originally issued on the Argo label are collected on this CD. The first nine tracks were recorded live in San Francisco and the band sound on good form with well worked and, most likely, well-rehearsed ensembles. The opening blues, The Jazz Twist, has Moody playing alto although he sounds equally at home on this or tenor sax. These are very well cooked blues and Moody is on sparkling form on both this and the studio set that follows. He digs into the blues on the opening selection and again on Bunny Boo, measuring his solo phrasing carefully as the rhythm section pulses along beside him. Moody Flooty has the leader showing how well he can perform on flute, his tone strong and his ideas forming unimpeded. The rhythm section plays well throughout. Arnold Enlow, who is aka Buddy on some discs, is steady on all selections. Moody is the only soloist but the group sound overall, is impressive.
The second LP contained here has a slightly different sound but again, good, clear ensembles. We get to hear the other players take solos too, including bassist Outlaw who precedes the leader on Sassy Lady. Moody is in a bright, boppish mood on these pieces, swinging along merrily with the rhythm players pushing him. Some early examples of the flowing solo style of Kenny Barron are on offer on this session. The live music on 1 to 9 is more spontaneous and off the cuff but the studio pieces sound more organised and worked through. Serrano has some lyrical trumpet solos that contrast nicely with the leaders bop horn."
—Derek Ansell (Jazz Journal, March 2015)