Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys

Jemeel Moondoc

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Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys Review

by Steve Loewy

Few musicians record with the consistency of Jemeel Moondoc. While he records fairly infrequently, his albums almost always produce music of a very high order, with original concepts that incorporate modern harmonies while absorbing the lessons of the past. This one is no exception, and in some ways it is his most highly developed. Using a quintet in which vibes substitute for piano, Moondoc builds on the innovations of the classic Ornette Coleman small groups, taking them incrementally to the next level. A sense of melody always underlines Moondoc's most radical excursions. His wailing alto is a perfect foil for trumpeter Nathan Breedlove's chopped, ragged phrases. Khan Jamal may be the most conservative member of the group, largely due to the refined nature of the vibraphone, but he performs with a clear recognition of the most progressive harmonies. Recorded live at New York City's demanding and explosive Vision Festival, the quintet explores a plethora of emotions, from the sublime to raw, unabashedly revolutionary exuberance. Moondoc never loses focus, as the group marches forward with touches of Ayler, Coltrane, and Coleman, while Moondoc's distinct vision is always in the forefront. The audience's approval evidences the power of this group, who creates some of the best jazz of its kind.

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