May 20, 2009
Charnett Moffett’s CD Release party at the Iridium Jazz Club
“Fierce playing, on both acoustic (arco & pizzicato) and fretless bass.” Downbeat magazine
YES! “Fierce” and sensitive and playful and graceful and majestic! The mind-boggling multi-bassist Charnett Moffett mesmerized audiences at the Iridium Jazz Club last night where he released his 10th solo recording and his Motéma Music debut as a leader, The Art Of Improvisation.
I don’t know what your life is like – certainly I can’t guess what the other 8.2 million people in NYC do on any given day or night — but last night I witnessed music so profound and wonderful – I realized, yet again, that being alive in the presence of great art and great artists is what makes my life as a New Yorker joyous and worth living.
Charnett Moffett, among the most creative artists alive today, performed with his trio and an assortment of uber-talented friends who, together at the Iridium, blew the house away.
I’ve always been fascinated with the power of rhythm – mostly with a passion for drumming – but I’ve wondered, especially, about bass players. It just seems like they are from another planet, plucking away on those thick strings, keeping the underneath pulse alive, sometimes in a way that seems so odd and different – living in a world where the only mode of communication is the vibration of a deep, dark, string.
Charnett Moffett is one such inter-planetary bass player – a man from another dimension – able to tap the pulse of the universe with his fingers. He taps his universe through your head and your heart and even your groin. Simply put – no one plays like Charnett Moffett, and, with his out-there trio performing live last night at the Iridium, he proved once again, that he is in constant state of invention.
Jazz is, of course, is an improvisational tradition, and with the tradition of permission, Charnett creates his own form of exciting, vibrant and all-encompassing sound. He dances with his instrument. He slides his fingers along the strings in long fell swoops, he taps it percussively with his bow, he draws out the most beautiful and haunting melodies. And Charnett’s driving band has energy to burn – and burn they do – because what they play is clearly all-new all the time.
Steven Scott on a piano that sounded, sometimes, like shattered glass, and like water swirling in a fast-moving stream. During his solo he confused me briefly, loosing me in the fast rush of his fingers running on white and black, and then reeled me back in, helping me understand where he had been taking me, with the expert weaving of familiar melodies and musical puns – making me feel comfortable and right back at home again.
When drummer Will Calhoun began to build the rhythm increasing in intensity inside a very funky piece, and then took what turned out to be a long solo, this master was like a rampaging bushfire, a pride of lions moving forward in a spiraling wave-like motion, building, building, and building. Listening to him roar, I felt so damn satisfied!
I had I entered the club, on time for the second set – but the first set just never seemed to end, the energy was so powerful, the band just did not stop. So I slipped in and took a seat while they were still playing. I’m glad I got in that room and didn’t wait, because within the first half hour or so, I heard and felt rhythms that inspired my body to rise up and freed me to get out of my chair to dance. Mr. Moffett inspired me with the freedom of his playing. His band, including the polyrhythmically blessed drummer Mr. Calhoun, ricocheted machine gun bullets, and caressed me with a underlying layer of sway, like an Island women’s hips shaking to a she karee – well, with all that, how then could I stay in my seat?
So there I was, in the middle of the Iridium Jazz Club, shakin’ my 57-year-old booty, dancing around the whole club – alone. Many of you who know me might not find that scenario so strange –me dancing like a wild-woman — but it’s a rare occurrence, even for me, to dance like that to jazz.
At one point during this astounding concert, I was sitting quietly and I eased out of an hypnotic spell created by the musicians. I looked around the room … heads were nodding and bobbing and bodies were swaying in every kind of curve and pattern imaginable, all in time to the music, with each person immersed in his or her own private ecstasy – I studied the faces – each and every person in that room was in a trance. We were in a collective trance.
After the first set finally ended, the club was filled with an orgasmic afterglow. Charnett’s team of dedicated artist support personnel, including his manager, Vernon H. Hammond III, a very tall, handsome, impeccably dressed man with a debonair air, his publicist the buoyant Don Lucoff, a passionate supporter of his work, Jana Herzen, president of the Motéma record label, and the rest of the team — all buzzed with the joy of possibility. I could feel it in the air.
I’m sorry if weren’t there too, because you missed one hell of a performance, but I encourage you to check out Mr. Moffett’s tour dates, and pass them along to your friend around the country. http://motema.com/events-artist.php#artist_id44
To see a little glimpse of what the master has to offer, go to: http://www.motema.com/video/CharnettMoffett/75
And here, below, in case you don’t believe me, is a quote to further encourage you to learn more about the great Charnett Moffett:
“Moffett is a hypnotic performer. Playing the upright and the electric bass and accompanied only by piano and drums, he mesmerizes with a series of propulsive minimalist grooves…” – DETAILS
All Power to the Music!
Judith Z. Miller
Aka Artist Soul