James Moody

Heritage Hum/The Teachers

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James Moody's formidable saxophone and flute are heard here in the service of some very credible performances, along with some of more dubious merit. Both Heritage Hum and The Teachers were originally released in 1970, but there is a world of stylistic and artistic difference between the two.

Heritage Hum is a satisfying mainstream quartet date, with the leader joined by the solid rhythm section of bassist Sam Jones, drummer Freddie Waits, and pianist Mike Longo. Moody sticks with the flute mostly, making clear his deserved ranking as one of the finest jazz flutists. Eddie Jefferson, who wrote the lyrics for King Pleasure's 1952 hit "Moody's Mood for Love" (based on Moody's version of "I'm in the Mood for Love"), contributes wry lyrics and vocals on his reworked versions of "Parker's Mood" and "Pennies From Heaven." The Teachers, on the other hand, is an example of the far too numerous, clumsy jazz-pop crossover attempts from this era. Eschewing the straight-ahead verities of Heritage Hum, The Teachers opts too often for faddish rock bombast. The results frequently sound hopelessly dated. The title track blows like a fourth-ranked runner-up for the theme to an early-'70s cop show. "Unchained" and "Behind Every Good Man" are decent, funky flute workouts, but that still leaves the listener with such low points as a superfluous version of the Beatles' "Hello Goodbye" and the puzzling, ersatz psychedelia of "Street Talk Suite."

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