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10/02/13

Charnett Moffett
Spirit of Sound
Motema

Charnett Moffett is a most lyrical bassist. Regardless of the setting in which he finds himself, he conjures heaps of melody—tuneful enough to sing along to. He’s also an orchestral bassist. It’s never acceptable to Moffett to merely hold down the bottom and be done with it; he’s a pilgrim of the instrument, ever exploring its reach. On The Bridge, his solo bass release of earlier this year, he counterbalanced the dearth of collaborators by plugging all of the gaps himself.

On Spirit of Sound, he doesn’t need to be all of those things but he can’t help himself—and that’s a good thing for the listener. Moffett is a showman as well as an artiste; within the context of a group, from duo on up, he refuses to hold back and he gets away with it because he’s so damn good. He owns every scene he’s in but he’s never less than generous. Spirit of Sound begins with a solo, “Bassland,” a bridge to The Bridge, if you will. Then comes the unpredictable: “Seeker of Truth” and “Hope,” two early tracks, feature, respectively, words by E.E. Cummings and Emily Dickinson, spoken by Angela Moffett, Charnett’s wife, who also contributes tamboura to every cut. The Eastern motif is pervasive throughout, son Max augmenting his trap drums with tabla. (Daughter Amareia also contributes a vocal to one track.) “Swing Raga,” on which Charnett plays piccolo bass, Jana Herzen sings and Babatunde Lea supplies percussion, is reminiscent of pseudo-psychedelia from a ’60s hippie exploitation film—albeit with a much higher caliber of musicianship. Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” the only non-original, is a free-for-all for the Moffett family trio, and the album-closing title track, husband and wife only, is chamber-like and solemn.

That’s just a taste. Spirit of Sound is all one big adventure that’s not to be missed.

Originally published in October 2013
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