Charnett Moffett was just 20 and already a veteran of high-profile gigs when he made his debut as a leader. Three decades’ worth of road work and recording sessions later, he’s out with his aptly titled 14th release, Music From Our Soul, which handily demonstrates the free-spirited, groove-intensive approach he’s taken with his music in recent years. It’s a winning set of electric-acoustic music, playful but serious and sometimes challenging.
Music From Our Soul is essentially a collection of studio tracks and live dates in New York, Seattle and Bern, Switzerland, documenting some of what Moffett’s been up to since the release of his 2013 album, Spirit of Sound. The genesis of the project: a 2014 studio session that found the bassist joined by a longtime collaborator, guitarist Stanley Jordan, and drummer Mike Clark. That occasion yielded a speedy version of Miles’ “So What,” a showcase for Jordan’s sinewy soloing; the hypnotic, wah-enhanced “Love in the Galaxies”; and the leader’s brief, unaccompanied “Celestial Dimensions,” on which, on upright, he alternates hard-strummed figures with bowed lines.
Avant-minded tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders takes Moffett (on fretless bass guitar), Jordan and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts further out on the opening title track, the droning, Middle Eastern-tinted “We Are Here to Play,” and “Freedom Swing.” And for good measure, Moffett, pianist Cyrus Chestnut and drummer Victor Lewis offer a pair of lovely piano-trio tunes, caught live at NYC’s Jazz Standard—a delicate-to-spirited “Mood Indigo,” and “Come and Play,” a hard-swinging original, one of several showcasing the leader’s still-astonishing chops.