James Moody

Moody Plays Mancini

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As popular and well-known as Henry Mancini was when he was alive, only after his death in 1994 have the substantial musical tributes been coming -- and the tunes included on this graceful disc were suggested by the composer himself. Mancini was, of course, a product of the big band era -- and thus, steeped in jazz -- and his movie themes often make gratifying basic material for ballad improvisations. With only Gil Goldstein's electronic keyboards (used sparingly and strictly in a jazz context), Todd Coolman's bass, and Terri Lyne Carrington's drums to back him up, Moody's tenor, alto and soprano solos are consistently warm, melodic, and easy to assimilate, with a few nudges outside the changes on "Charade." Appropriately he also chooses to use the flute on the sly, sauntering Pink Panther theme and "Soldier In the Rain." The sentimental "Moon River" was the only tune Mancini did not recommend, but it was from Moody's wife's favorite film, and it gives Moody a chance to exercise his deep, endearingly rusty bass voice.

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