Jemeel Moondoc Tentet - Live at the Vision Festival

Mark Keresman, Jazz Review

Alto sax guy Jemeel Moondoc is out of the same NYC "loft jazz" scene as Roy Campbell and William Parker, musicians embracing/expanding the "free" aesthetic of the 60s and 70s who not only exist outside the patronage of the major record labels (and most of the big NYC jazz clubs) but actually thrive. (It also doesn't hurt that a good-sized chunk of the NY free jazz scene has been embraced by the area's indie/alt-rock scene - Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore are not only supporters, but also collaborators.)

Moondoc's Tentet is a "revival" of an unrecorded group of his, the Jus Grew Orchestra, in the earlier days of the loft scene (called thus because some musicians used the lofts they lived in as performance spaces).

Recorded live in 2001 at the annual Vision Festival, Moondoc's ensemble, writing and conducting has the wild 'n' woolly whoop and joyous, cathartic skronk of free jazz conjoined with the focused ensemble disciplines of Don Cherry, Andrew Hill and (especially) Charles Mingus. So while there's plenty of passionate "out" soloing, there's also plenty of bluesy and swinging context(s) to lend savor to the freedom. And what soloing we have here: Roy Campbell may well be the heir to Freddie Hubbard's throne, with his crackling, brash sound, conciseness and fluidity. Michael Marcus' rollicking baritone has the same richness as Pepper Adams, blending in with the ensemble a la Harry Carney, and Moondoc's Ornette-descended alto has fine tart-toned swagger.

The normally reserved Bern Nix gets to burn some, too, on the Mingus-like "The Blue Cross - Blues For Earl Cross." So if you like your free jazz to be grounded by some earthy, holy-rolling stomp, or if you dig swinging large group hard bop charged with ragged avant edge, then this platter is mos def worth a search-out.

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