Penumbra: The Moon Sessions
On this album, Matheny draws lyrical inspiration from tunes with the word "moon" in the title. The fluegelhorn player is a glowing alternative to today's fiery, chops-parading brassmen. Fronting a quintet, he evokes qualities named in his "Moon Song Trinity": "Sea of Tranquillity," "Sea of Serenity" and "Sea of Fertility." But do not mistake him for a purveyor of "soft jazz" or "New Age" music. In his and the quintet's playing, he demonstrates a firm jazz perspective that incorporates lyrical predecessors such as Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, Chet Baker, Kenny Wheeler and Tom Harrell.
The group-tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis, guitarist John Heller, bassist Bill Douglas and drummer Kenny Wollensen-plays thoughtfully and empathetically, with a spare rather than busy solo approach. Tunes include Harrell's "Moon Alley," Lee Morgan's "Desert Moonlight," Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and others. Veteran record executive Orrin Keepnews produced the session.