It takes a lot of cojones to write a book called 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die and then step out onto the world stage to offer up a recording of your own. That’s exactly what saxophonist and music scribe Tom Moon has gone out and done, but despite setting himself up for some expected slings and arrows as a performer tagged with that audacious book title, the results aren’t that half bad. With Into the Ojalá, Moon assembled a group of crackerjack jazz musicians from the Philadelphia area and hastily put together an album of essentially chill-out music in a span of four days, a record that was partially inspired by the upscale marble-and-glass hotel lounges the musician/author visited while on tour with his book.
In a way, Into the Ojalá is kind of a jazz-world counterpart to Ambient 1: Music for Airports, in that you could imagine this LP being played in the background of some hotel bar right in your neighbourhood. But that’s not all. This is easy-listening jazz that could also be suited for the dentist’s chair, the office elevator, the telephone while on hold, or a nice romantic evening featuring candlelight and a good home cooked meal with your significant other. Some might dismiss this album as a result, but I found myself charmed by it. Whereas my colleague here at PopMatters, Dylan Nelson, called the record in an earlier review that appeared on this website “syrupy, [and] sometimes saccharine”, I’m generally a sucker for that kind of thing. I like mid-period Chicago and Aja-era Steely Dan, which is about as lite jazz-rock as it comes. Moon and his backing band are clearly capable jazzheads, and there’s a general sense of musical competency that shines throughout the proceedings.
If this record has a bit of a failing, it’s that Moon and his sax sometimes doesn’t know when to shut up now and then – excepting for a lengthy rock guitar freak out on closing number “Rumi We’re Losing” – and move out of the way of the other bandmates taking part. However, Into the Ojalá is a nice, relaxing way to cap off a hard day at work, and, for those who don’t mind their jazz a little diluted, there is much to enjoy.
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