It's interesting what the passage of time does on certain jazzers. You could argue that all four members of the Moodswing band were ''old souls'' back when they definitely were not old. They're still not old but of course older on RoundAgain, all four what we now call proper legends. The second preview track of the album set for the gig-less tumbleweed days of the summer has just been unveiled by issuing label Nonesuch. 'Father' actually is more interesting but certainly less feelgood than the first track released back in March before we truly entered the tunnel of doom that is Coronavirus.
The Moodswing 1994 quartet of Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride and Brian Blade belong to that very different era and I remember it well when the album was first issued. Feelgood, feelanythingbutbad this new stuff picks up as if we are still back there in a more optimistic time when suddenly jazz was getting a bit more attention even if to some it was all a bit too retro and too many people wore suits. We need some of that feeling, perhaps not the clobber and the yuppie frills. However just think: the Internet was not in your office, there was no email unless you happened to be a very early adopter, people carried around mobile phones the size of bricks. I can recall listening to Moodswing on an advance cassette tape sent over by bike to the old Jazz on CD office in Mayfair like everything we got back then. Redman was hot property after Wish. I never was an Eric Clapton fan but Redman almost made me one with his cover of 'Tears in Heaven.'
Moodswing was deeper and the line-up different, gone were Pat Metheny, Billy Higgins and Charlie Haden, instead a bunch of younger players around Joshua's age joined the saxist, and if you weren't quite hooked by Wish you certainly were with Moodswing. If memory serves me right McBride hadn't debuted then. I interviewed the bassist for the first time a little later when he made his debut as a leader for Verve with Gettin' To It doing interviews and posing for photos at the Grafton Hotel where he was staying on London's Tottenham Court Road. His role on Moodswing is vital.
But we also need some clarity and I think you get that more on 'Father' than the earlier track for this new album. Redman has had an interesting few years often curating aspects of his past. In that regard I absolutely loved 2018's Still Dreaming that paid homage to Redman's own father revered free-saxophonist Dewey Redman (ex-Keith Jarrett American Quartet back in the 1970s) and Brian Blade was on that Old and New Dreams-referencing record too. I have my doubts if RoundAgain will repeat the success of Moodswing but going on what we know so far it certainly will be solid. Have a listen. SG
Top clockwise from top left: Brian Blade, Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Christian McBride. Photo: Nonesuch/Bandcamp