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

Charnett Moffett: Spirit of Sound

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

Charnett Moffett is a most lyrical bassist. Regardless of the setting in which he finds himself, he conjures heaps of melody-tuneful enough to sing along to. He’s also an orchestral bassist. It’s never acceptable to Moffett to merely hold down the bottom and be done with it; he’s a pilgrim of the instrument, ever exploring its reach. On The Bridge, his solo bass release of earlier this year, he counterbalanced the dearth of collaborators by plugging all of the gaps himself.

On Spirit of Sound, he doesn’t need to be all of those things but he can’t help himself-and that’s a good thing for the listener. Moffett is a showman as well as an artiste; within the context of a group, from duo on up, he refuses to hold back and he gets away with it because he’s so damn good. He owns every scene he’s in but he’s never less than generous. Spirit of Sound begins with a solo, “Bassland,” a bridge to The Bridge, if you will. Then comes the unpredictable: “Seeker of Truth” and “Hope,” two early tracks, feature, respectively, words by E.E. Cummings and Emily Dickinson, spoken by Angela Moffett, Charnett’s wife, who also contributes tamboura to every cut. The Eastern motif is pervasive throughout, son Max augmenting his trap drums with tabla. (Daughter Amareia also contributes a vocal to one track.) “Swing Raga,” on which Charnett plays piccolo bass, Jana Herzen sings and Babatunde Lea supplies percussion, is reminiscent of pseudo-psychedelia from a ’60s hippie exploitation film-albeit with a much higher caliber of musicianship. Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” the only non-original, is a free-for-all for the Moffett family trio, and the album-closing title track, husband and wife only, is chamber-like and solemn.

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