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Jemeel Moondoc All-Stars: Live in Paris

His career may have begun with Cecil Taylor, but it’s Ornette Coleman’s picture that Jemeel Moondoc probably keeps framed on his desk at work. You can hear it from the outset as he plays and as his compositions unfold in the style of Atlantic-period Coleman on Live in Paris (Cadence). Still, Moondoc leaves plenty of room for, well, Moondoc in there. The saxophonist tempers a Coleman-like astringency with an earthiness and a touch of sweetness. The latter quality comes out when Moondoc allows himself to improvise melodically, a hidden strength that helps him sustain a fine solo on the concert’s high mark, “Not Quite Ready for Prime Time.”

For this date, Moondoc’s touring all-stars include a pair of old colleagues-bassist William Parker and trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr.-and a pair of new acolytes-tenor saxophonist Zane Massey and drummer Cody Moffett, both of Moondoc’s Jus Grew Orchestra. Ragged at the edges though certainly not without its charms, this performance deserves attention mostly for the contributions of its leader. Campbell also deserves a mention, and Parker is solid as ever, though he sits too low in the mix.

Originally Published