Music

Charnett Moffett: Internet

Robert R. Calder

The wonder-bassist delivers a more straightforward jazz programme than on For the Love of Peace: righteous in a different, equally commendable way.


Charnett Moffett

Internet

Label: Piadrum
US Release Date: 2006-04-11
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

Listeners looking for more jazz than there was on Moffett's previous set can certainly find it on this approachable but serious CD. This is no complaint about the preceding collection, meant to be not jazz, but almost a family religious service, with music of such high class as is due the Man Upstairs.

For sustained jazz performances by the super-bass of Moffett, I suppose the places to go are still recordings of his work as a sideman, obviously with McCoy Tyner, and perhaps especially video footage of live gigs. Presumably, Moffett simply doesn't regard himself -- at least as yet -- a musical creator on the same scale as his sometimes boss.

He doesn't, however, stint himself, or the listener, in having Stephen Scott as pianist on so much of this basically piano-bass-drums trio set with augmentations. Scott's gifts are plain, and reviews should mention when a pianist has a sound of his or her own. We have to wait for this through Moffett's fearsome strumming at the start, but "G.E.M." soon lets us hear Moffett in support of a strong-swinging pianist. "Icon Blues" begins with Eric McPherson's brushes, and then with that lovely drummer collaborating, there's more bass for the Charnettophil: lovely theme, happy enough to let Scott's alternation of synthesizer and piano passages be fun. Multi-tracking himself on piccolo bass, fretless bass, and acoustic bass, Charnett displays Caribbean ambitions on "PTL", Scott doing ska-cum-reggae organ work before the big bass takes a solo with McPherson's brushwork. Monty Alexander, eat your ackees! "Kings and Queens" has ambitions only in the direction of the stunning piano trio performance. "Coral" is a miniature for unaccompanied bass, with a melody like that of an 18th century operatic aria -- for bass voice. There is some lovely strumming-slapping of bass fiddle.

On "Free Raga", Charnett seems to be asking some guitarist with sitar ambitions to eat his chuppatty out. Amit Shamir is on drums, and turns up again on "Jubilant", which is more Indo-Jazz Fusions with Maria Sartori-Spencer delivering a hearty vocalise or indo-scat, and Aaron Spencer playing soprano saxophone. Charnett plays tribute to the blessed Pastorius on fretless bass, and hangs on to the same axe with happy result on "Rain Drops", a trio number on which Scott generates electronic atmospheric swirls, as well as playing piano. On "Triumph", the pianist goes sanctified Caribbean, shows knowledge of Bach, and swings a brilliant clean line over the empathic teamwork of Charnett-Eric bass-drums. He has a nice lean sound, and when he goes into the trendier sort of sub-Tyner passage-work, he sometimes achieves a joyous parody, sometimes selecting very telling lines. "Mr. O.C." brings back the Pastorius-bass, with echo and introduced by more weather machine from a pianist able to keep company with his acoustic instrument long enough to add things. "Wishful Thinking" is piano trio with big acoustic bass again, nice piano, and some Bach piano over bass, before Charnett's bow turns the same bull fiddle briefly oriental. Have the items discussed in this paragraph been a suite, and is "Happy Dreams" (echochambered fretless bass with background electronics) still a part of it? McPherson's essential regardless, and Scott makes a stunning little entry among all the rubber-burning of the bouncing fretless bass.

And what about the acoustic bass performance with curious clicking noises, called "Internet", but starting again in India, and proceeding to conjure a nice jazz theme with enough demonstration of Charnett's prowess and its musicality to please potential listeners amazed by his doings with Tyner and Co. "Universal March" brings back the soprano player, has a mysterious J.S. (Janet Shih?) on piano, and Charnett on piccolo bass. Everybody gets together for a conclusion to the Indo-Bach and whatever else the programme has gone into, Charnett doing a sort of blues guitarist thing at the beginning and in the end making this ensemble piece more telling.

Encores seem to start thereafter, Charnett repeatedly speech-singing with a deep resonance, like the late bassist-vocalist Major Holley, the words "enjoy your life", with suggestions beyond mere hedonism. Well, he is a religious guy. The track numbered B2 is (deliberately, I hope) ghastly (as if "Enjoy Your Life" wasn't banal enough!). Echoing a pretty bad BBC play set in Scotland and guest-starring Harvey Keitel, Charnett -- like the guitarist in the working men's club in that play -- does "Star Spangled Banner"... but in, I presume, deliberate parody of Jimi Hendrix (and with sawing noises with strings on the fretboard which suggest he has an extra hand or two as well). "RAS" is the last title, with Scott Brown on piano, Charnett playing bass guitar and singing. I hope he's joking, but the track's so bad I won't listen to it again: this is something which I cannot say about the 14 items which I do recommend are listened to. This is neither a dull, nor a predictable record.

7

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image