Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Jemeel Moondoc Vtet: Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys

Keeping with the Eremite Records practice of releasing live concerts as CDs, the label has issued two great performances of the underappreciated alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys and Spirit House each capture Moondoc’s two main projects, his quintet and his Jus Grew Orchestra, respectively. Part of the reason that Moondoc isn’t widely recognized is that he doesn’t have many recordings-and the few he does have rarely show his true prowess. Neither of these outstanding bands has ever had any material released until now, but what is more shameful is that these records don’t bolster the assertion that he one of the best saxophonists on the avant-garde jazz scene.

Of the two, it’s hard to select which is the superior band or performance. Certainly though, Revolt is the much better recording. Taped live to DAT at the 2000 Vision Festival, Moondoc is surrounded by a stellar band that delivers an outstanding set of three 13- to 16-minute pieces plus a brief three-minute encore. Moondoc’s band of trumpeter Nathan Breedlove, drummer Codaryl Moffett, bassist John Voigt and vibraphonist Khan Jamal are in sync throughout the set. The cathartic beauty of “You Let Me Into Your Life” features some of Moondoc’s most potently languid and gripping playing, while the title track features some great interaction between him, Breedlove and Jamal. But for the sake of every Khan Jamal fan that will buy every record that he plays on, be forewarned that he is buried in the mix under the drums and the horns; only when he solos (as he does wonderfully on the title track) are there unstrained listening opportunities.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published