Personnel includes: James Moody (tenor saxophone); Bob Belden (arranger);
Jeremy Pelt (trumpet); Lou David Hazeltine (piano, electric piano); Scott Kinsey (keyboards, programming); Hans Glawisching, Todd Coolman (bass); Billy Kilson, Anthony Pinciotti (drums); Don Alias (percussion).
Recorded at Avatar Studios, New York, New York on May 21-23, 2003.
Judging from the glowing liner-notes quotes from Joe Zawinul and Herbie Hancock, both of whom contribute songs to the legendary bebopper's first studio effort in six years, it's hard to know who's paying homage to who. Ostensibly, the idea was to put the nearly 80-year-old legend -- known for both his illustrious solo career and an ongoing working relationship with Dizzy Gillespie -- in the studio with some hot young talent (the brilliant pianist David Hazeltine being the standout), tackling material from the aforementioned greats as well as Chick Corea, Kenny Barron, and Horace Silver. The most compelling of these are Barron's easy swinging "And Then Again," on which Moody's tenor improvises over the cool trio grooving of Hazeltine, Todd Coolman (bass), and Anthony Pinciotti (drums), Silver's punchy "When Lucy Smiles at Me," and Zawinul's moody, exotic ballad "A Message to Moody." The most compelling track is a jazzy number by a famous film composer, James Newton Howard's "Main Title" from Glengarry Glen Ross, which mixes Moody's colorful soloing with flourishes featuring him as part of a brass and flute ensemble. The closing number, "Love Was the Cause of All Good Things," is driven by a hip-hop groove and finds Moody joining the rap generation; this can be seen either as a tremendous novelty or an afterthought that should have been eliminated, depending on how pure a jazz buff one is. Either way, it's proof that the nearly 80-year-old Moody is doing more than resting on his immense laurels. ~ Jonathan Widran