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Jemeel Moondoc Tentet - Live at the Vision Festival

François Couture, All Music Guide

It didn't take long for Jemeel Moondoc to put together a new version of his Jus Grew Orchestra once he got his career back on track in the late 90s.

The large ensemble Moondoc leads it more like a big band -- is highly trained in the art of pleasing a crowd of adventurous listeners while keeping things earthly-bound and swinging. In fact, it represents the saxophonist's more conservative side. This short set (45 minutes) recorded at the 2001 Vision Festival illustrates it well.

Even though the leader uses the term conduction, this music is far from Lawrence Butch Morris exercises in improvisers control. It comes much closer to Duke Ellington's big band pieces.

Sure, the solos step out and run free Michael Marcus and John Voigt provide highlights, but Moondoc keeps things well under control and constantly swinging.

Opulent Continuum is a lively opener dominated by a Basie-meets-Monk- meets-Coleman melody. The Blue Dog, dedicated to Earl Cross pushes its heavy blues motif around the band for a quarter of an hour. Here Moondoc shows what he means by conduction as he cues in solos and duets, making sure all nine musicians get their time to shine -- and keeping a spot for himself.

Cosmic Tabernacle ends the set with a more free-form number, ballad style, where Moondoc turns his impressive horn section (himself, Marcus and Zane Massey on saxes, Roy Campbell and Nathan Breedlove on trumpets, Steve Swell and Tyrone Hill on trombones into a mysticism-yearning beast. It provides a beautiful finale for this enjoyable companion to 2001's Eremite CD.

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