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Relative Pitch

JEMEEL MOONDOC, alto saxophone

By Mike Shanley

Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone) and Connie Crothers (piano) have recorded prolifically enough to earn greater recognition, yet their work often falls below the radar. Moondoc began playing in the Loft-era New York, disappearing in the 9-to-5 world until reappearing in the 90‟s with a host of albums on the Eremite label. His tone and ideas have been compared to Ornette Coleman‟s, but he now sound like a kindred spirit of the late Jimmy Lyons, with a strong vocabulary delivered in a tone that doesn’t lose sight of bop. Crothers has been long associated with the legacy of her mentor Lennie Tristano, no holds barred freedom.

Two was recorded at the pianist loft and features six improvisations along with two compositions attributed to Moondoc and to Crothers individually. Jazz duets often get described as “conversations” between the two players, and this session clearly falls into this category. While a topic or two goes on a little too long, the overall discussion sharp points and empathetic support in a nod to his forebears, Moondoc enters on the first track with the three intro from Charlie Parker‟s “Parker‟s Mood”. For further elaboration, his standalone coda on that track almost sounds like a friendly explanation of what will come.

By “Improvisation 4”, the duo is turned into each other so well that the ballad sounds pre-composed. Throughout, the pianist uses various methods to develop the conversation: moving quickly with single-note lines or ascending dissonant chords, and low-end rumbling to boost the alto. When she offers some rubato thunder in the last track, it acts as a climatic finale to a fruitful heart to heart.

Jazz Times
August 8, 2013


Derek Taylor, Dusted Magazine
January 2013

Mike Shanley, Jazz Times
August 2013

Kurt Gottschalk, The Squid's Ear
August 2013

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