Spirit of Sound (July 9, 2013) is a cinematic free/world/jazz adventure conceived, composed and produced by the visionary bassist Charnett Moffett in association with Motéma label president Jana Herzen, his son Charnett “Max” Moffett, and famed jazz manager Mary Ann Topper, who co-produced his previous release, The Bridge (Solo Bass Works). Spirit of Sound takes the listener on a groundbreaking sonic journey into Moffett’s very adventurous composer/performer/producer world of multi-layered basses – an upright acoustic, a fretless electric and a piccolo bass guitar mystically intermingle with magical vocalese, mysterious poetry and East Indian drones along with hard-swinging jazz piano, drums and sax. Spirit of Sound also features the current generation of the Moffett family musical legacy, along with cameo appearances from five acclaimed leaders from the Motéma roster: Marc Cary, Oran Etkin, Jana Herzen, Babatunde Lea and Tessa Souter.
Respected as one of the most virtuosic and expressive bassists in jazz, Moffett has outdone even himself this year. Spirit of Sound, his 13th release as a leader, follows his searing and internationally acclaimed solo recording The Bridge, released by Motéma in April 2013. The intensely focused release was an astounding acoustic solo bass tour-de-force on which Moffett pulled a seemingly impossible symphony of sounds out of one instrument. In contrast, Spirit of Sound has the composer toying with an extraordinarily wide spectrum of sounds and textures on a multi-dimensional studio project. These two 2013 releases join Moffett’s previous recordings for Motéma: Treasure (2011) and his 2009 label debut The Art of Improvisation.
In the words of Moffett:
I seek to free my mind and the listener’s mind with my music. I believe that music is an art of seeking truth and of healing. That’s why it was such a pleasure to continue creating musical history with Moffett family musicians. It was an incredible experience to have performed with my father’s family band, and now I get to continue this wonderful tradition with the next generation. My son Max, who plays drums and who co-produced this project with me, studied drums with his grandfather Charles at a very early age. My daughter Amareia is one of the featured vocalists performing on this project. And my wife Angela provides a beautiful foundation for it all with the tamboura. This drone instrument sets up a space for the acoustic upright bass to be used as a solo instrument. It also brought me great joy to feature guest artists from the Motéma family: Mary Cary, Oran Etkin, Babatunde Lea, Tessa Souter and Motéma’s founder Jana Herzen. This release represents the newest expression of my ensemble vision to date, whereas the solo project was my most personal and challenging release so far.
Spirit of Sound features 11 compositions, 10 originals plus a moving rendition of “Lonely Woman” by the iconic jazz musician Ornette Coleman, Moffett’s namesake along with his father, Charles, who played drums for Coleman and led the original Moffett Family Band.
Spirit of Sound’s opening track, “Bassland” may be just that – a land only bassists know how to travel. “Seeker of Truth” is based on an E.E. Cummings poem and showcases spoken word by Angela Moffett. Next their daughter Amareia provides a haunting vocalese on “Opera.” The poet Emily Dickinson inspired “Hope,” which features clarinetist Oran Etkin and percussionist Babatunde Lea. Vocalist Tessa Souter is featured on “Natural Heritage,” a moving, atmospheric tune that could easily fit inside of a Quentin Tarantino film. Motéma’s founder Jana Herzen lends her rootsy soul voice to “Swing Raga,” which also features Lea. Moffett’s upright bass introduces “Blues Walk Groove” which leads into “Overpass” – a song he describes as an Eastern hoe-down – which showcases Etkin and Lea. “Lonely Woman” then leads into “For Those Who Know” followed by the closing tune, “Spirit of Sound,” a fitting summary statement for this evocative musical program.
These Moffett recordings also available on Motéma:
The Bridge (Solo Bass Works). Moffett’s debut solo bass recording, is one of a very limited number of solo acoustic bass albums ever recorded. It features 20 dynamic vignettes of original compositions and selected arrangements of songs associated with his bandleaders through the years including Wynton Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, McCoy Tyner and Stanley Jordan. The CD became a #1 most added release to the JazzWeek radio chart, impressing the industry with its astounding musicality, range and appeal.
Duo Project with Jana Herzen. Moffett is featured on Passion of a Lonely Heart, an intimate duo recording led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Jana Herzen, founder of Motéma Music. Passion’s conversational feel elicited great critical response. Its release at the dawn of Motéma’s 10th anniversary of “promoting artists of power and distinction” prompted profiles in Downbeat, Jazziz, Jazz Inside, NYC Jazz Record and Hot House magazines. Learning Jana’s music forced me play in a different style and concept that was unusual for me to experience, shares Moffett.
About Charnett Moffett. Appearing on over 200 recordings, Moffett is a veritable bass legend and has one of the most distinguished careers in jazz. He first appeared on a recording at age seven with the Moffett Family Band. At age 16 he left Juilliard to join the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, before starting his non-stop career working with innumerable icons of music including Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman, McCoy Tyner, Tony Williams, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Arturo Sandoval, Anita Baker, Stanley Jordan, Harry Connick, Jr., David Sanborn, Branford Marsalis and Bette Midler. Most recently he’s been touring with vocal sensation Melody Gardot. Moffett recorded three CDs for the esteemed Blue Note label and six others on various labels before his path led him to Motéma. Whether as the leader or in a supportive role, his intense and energetic solos inspire audience ovations around the world.