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May 2006

Charnett Moffett
Internet
Piadrum Records

While Charnett Moffett’s 2004 album For the Love of Peace was something of a family affair—since his brothers, sister and wife pitched in—the bassist sticks to a piano-trio format this time for all but two tracks. The spotlight stays on Moffett, who switches between upright, fretless, piccolo basses and fretted bass guitar on the 17 tracks.

“G.E.M.” and “Icon Blues” pay tribute to John Coltrane’s classic rhythm section and Ray Brown, respectively, and while each track might conjure memories of their honorees, Moffett is no mere imitator. His rock-solid tone, which evokes the authority of Mingus, sounds especially impressive. On piccolo bass he possesses the clarity of a guitarist, and his speed on the fretless bass is mind-boggling. All three instruments appear on “PTL,” which sounds graceful and avoids the muddy pitfalls of such an arrangement.

But Internet occasionally sounds more like a seminar on bass solos instead of a set of tunes, especially on the fretless tracks. Some pieces get really repetitive, which only gets worse when Maria Sartori-Spencer adds wordless vocals (“Jubilant”) or, worse yet, when Moffett himself sings simplistic lyrics.

Still, I have to admire his solo reading of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” where Moffett adds distortion and wah-pedal to his upright and makes a bold statement that rivals Jimi Hendrix’s version for guts and passion.

Originally published in May 2006
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