Dmitri_matheny_penumbra_span3
September 1997

Dmitri Matheny
Penumbra: The Moon Sessions
Monarch Records/HLH

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.

Originally published in September 1997
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