Dmitri Matheny

Penumbra: Moon Sessions

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Dmitri Matheny, the head of the Monarch label, is an excellent flugelhornist. His style and sound are mellow, and his bop-based improvising is fairly melodic. For this date, he performs a variety of songs that have "moon" in their title. Matheny utilizes his regular group, a pianoless quintet with tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis (formerly with Charlie Hunter), guitarist John Heller, bassist Bill Douglass and drummer Kenny Wollesen. Produced by veteran Orrin Keepnews (for whom "Moon Rocks" was subtitled "Keepnew's Blues"), the emphasis is generally on slower tempos, although there is enough variation to keep one's interest. Matheny contributed three pieces, including the three-part "Moon Song Trinity," and there are also selections by Tom Harrell, Lee Morgan ("Desert Moonlight") and Neil Young, a traditional Chinese melody ("Autumn Moon"), and the standard "Moonlight In Vermont." An added touch is the inclusion of Rob Burger's accordion on the tango-influenced "Sea of Tranquility" (the first part of "Moon Song Trinity"). Matheny's light tone blends well throughout with Ellis' slightly heavier sound, and this sleeper is well worth investigating, both for the fine solos and the fresh material.

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