Recorded Jan3, Feb 11, 1969, New York
This CD reissues a rather unusual James Moody date. Best known for his tenor and alto playing (although he is also recognized as a talented flutist), Moody is here heard exclusively on soprano and flute. Trombonist Tom McIntosh contributed a tune and arranged all eight pieces (which also include four Moody originals). Five of the numbers feature Moody in a nonet, including an emotional "Old Folks" and an advanced reworking of Duke Ellington's "Main Step." The other three numbers find Moody's flute joined by trombone, French horn, three strings, a rhythm section and Linda November's wordless vocalizing; of these, "Gone Are the Days" is quite eccentric, being turned into a protest piece with quite a few quotes from other songs. Throughout the CD, Moody plays quite well and sounds surprisingly effective on soprano, an instrument he would rarely return to in the future.
All Music Guide
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James Moody has been charming and warming listeners for years. But his collaboration here with arranger-composer Tom McIntosh gives him the opportunity to express some new facets of his musical personality.
One segment of the album introduces the highly personal Moody approach to the soprano sax. For this, Mcintosh has revitalized the "big-little band" sound so successfully used by Moody in the past. The other side presents Moody's flute virtuosity integrated with a pair of unusual instrumental choirs-one a string trio, the other consisting of trombone, French horn, and female voice.
The material is equally provocative. "Gone Are the Days" is derived from a bit of 19th Century Americana by that patronizing saint of plantation parlor music, Stephen Foster. Moody and McIntosh transform it into an incisive protest piece, complete with some very timely quotes. (Try recalling the lyrics as you listen.) There is also an imaginative updating of Ellington's classic "Main Stem," and Moody's celebrated interpretation of "Old Folks." As a composer, Moody contributes three new pieces-a compelling blues, "Savannah Calling"; a flute showcase, "Feeling Low"; and the surprising "A Statement."
James Moody is a musical magician. I am glad to have experienced this display of his wizardry at such close range