Keeper of the Flame
Charly Antolini, Danny Moss, John Pearce & Len Skeat
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Through his playing on this and other albums, Danny Moss acknowledges his major influences and honors them. The artists for whom he keeps the flame, stays the course, and carries the torch lit by are Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, the underappreciated Bud Freeman, and, to a lesser extent, Budd Johnson. He avoids John Coltrane sheets of sound and the free jazz of Archie Shepp, like honkers and squeakers. As long as there are talented tenor sax players like Moss, Scott Hamilton, Harry Allen, and Spike Robinson who have access to jazz venues and stable recording companies, the great tenor men will not easily be relegated to the trash heap of the forgotten.
Moss was born in England 1927, about the time that Coleman Hawkins was starting his tenure with Fletcher Henderson where he started to redefine the tenor saxophone. With the opening strains of the album's kick off tune, "Three Little Words," you sense Hawkins' 1944 recording with his Sax Ensemble. John Pearce's piano is significant here, as it is on all the cuts. Webster's 1965 rendition of "Nancy With the Laughing Face" is recalled with Moss, not as breathy as Webster was to become, but still invoking the master tenor's legacy as one of the most melodic players to pick up the horn. The group's rendition of "Perdido" is sprightly with Charly Antolini's drums setting the pace. An album highlight is Moss' lengthy exposition of "Taking a Chance on Love" recalling Hawkins' ground breaking improvisation on "Body and Soul." Be aware, however, Moss is in no way impersonating the styles of these great masters. On the basis of having his own way with the horn, Moss has been a critical cog in the English jazz machine for more than 40 years. When American vocal stars like Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan played the British circuit, Moss was called in as a featured soloist. He has no need to copy anyone to make it, he's already there.
There's not a bad cut on a play list of 13 of Tin Pan Alley's best which raises the question, "do we need another version of [pick your choice from the program]?" The answer is an unqualified "yes" when the group sheds new light on them with these refreshingly imaginative arrangements. Highly recommended.
Född: Zurich, Switzerland
Aktiva år: '60s, '70s, '80s
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