After reviewing a number of new albums that feature unusual instruments and/or odd combinations thereof, I think I was more than ready for something ordinary. But let me quickly state that I mean ordinary only in the sense of conventional instrumentation. Our Delight, a new release from the James Moody/Hank jones Quartet on the IPO label, is musically extraordinary.
It’s also a landmark of sorts. Although the two legends have had parallel careers in many respects, with each logging several decades of service at the highest levels of jazz, they’ve seldom worked together. Pianist Jones is the elder, with beginnings that go back to the era of the big bands, while Moody has been showing off his sax and flute talents since the days of bebop.
They’ve occasionally crossed paths, but this album is the first that’s devoted entirely to a pairing of the twosome. They’re backed up very nicely by bassist Todd Coolman and drummer Adam Nussbaum, who both occasionally shine through, but for the most part the two stars are just that — stars. Moody and Jones are amazing, and there is little evidence that the advance of time has eroded their skills.
If you’re not convinced, listen to Moody’s smooth sax solos on the jazz standard, “Body and Soul,” or witness his mellifluous tones on “Soul Trane.” Both pieces speak directly to his history in early jazz and he doesn’t disappoint as he pays tribute to many of the icons he played alongside. He does the same with Sonny Stitt’s “Eternal Triangle,” and it’s one of the best tracks on the album.
Jones is equally impressive, although in the subtle manner that’s more his style. His keyboarding perfectly complement Moody’s strong presence while making an occasional statement of his own. Especially noteworthy is his work on the Latin-flavored “Con Alma,” and “Birk’s Works,” a Dizzy Gillespie composition.
Moody is mostly heard on his tenor sax, but does bring out the flute once in a while as on his own “Darben the Red Foxx,” and there’s even room on the album for a spot or two of scat-singing from vocalist Roberta Gambarini.
A nice collection of timeless jazz, well worth the listen. Available as downloads or as a physical CD, which includes a bonus disc featuring tracks from other IPO artists, including Roger Kellaway, The Eddie Daniels Quartet, and others.