General Music Project

General Music Project

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Damn, what a generic group name for four pretty un-generic musicians in Kenny Garrett , Geri Allen, Charles Moffett, and his son Charnett Moffett. The liner notes claim the moniker frees the quartet to move in any musical direction but the whole comes up well short of the sum of the stellar parts on General Music Project. The Moffett father-son rhythm tandem settles "Choo Choo Train" into an easy flow while Garrett works his rhythm fixation into his solo and Allen goes for full-bodied chords before Charnett's fleet-fingered bass solo. "Apex" maintains that light buoyant feel, with Charnett and Allen's right hands doubling the melody with the former very fluid and comfortable ranging over the top. "Sing a Song of Song" and "Happy Dream" both sport gospel traces, with Garrett stretching out on the latter over Charnett's limber bass pulse and Charles' unerring swing. The ballad "Calling You" is almost all Garrett and Allen and the choppy, angular head to Garrett's "Tip Toeing" quickly sweeps back into the buoyant flow.

It doesn't push the envelope the way these musicians can, and neither does "Intro to Yellow" -- it's still pretty sedate, even with Allen's melodic tinkles and fractured rhythms. "Sunbeam" is more outside and more interesting, both during Garrett's solos and some of the avant-to-barrelhouse places Allen ventures to in hers -- it's the first and only time the music doesn't feel reined in.

General Music Project is pretty, in-the-pocket music that never squeezes out any sparks in the playing or compositions. The Moffetts groove very well, Garrett is fine but nothing special, and Allen is far less inspired than usual. Every one of them has consistently been heard to far greater effect in other contexts than the merely competent, professional jazz here. Maybe that generic name wasn't so inappropriate after all.

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