Down Beat (p.50) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he session closes out with the wah-wah bass incantations of 'Star Spangled Banner,' a bracing, Hendrix-esque nod to musical freedom."
Personnel: Charnett Moffett (acoustic bass, upright bass, bass guitar, fretless bass, drums); Yungchen Lhamo (vocals); Angela Moffett (spoken vocals); Patrick Jones, Shane Barnes (guitar, guitars); Pat Jones (acoustic guitar); Shannon Barnes (electric guitar); RJ Avallone (trumpet); Scott Brown (piano); Eric McPherson, Will Calhoun (drums).
Audio Mixer: Chris Jennings.
Liner Note Authors: Bill Milkowski; Charnett Moffett.
Recording information: Legacy Recording Studios, New York, NY (06/28/2008).
Photographer: Carol Friedman.
Charnett Moffett's talent as a premier progressive jazz bassist has never been in doubt, but compositionally, his work has straddled the fence between overtly commercial mainstream and contemporary modern jazz. This recording, his eighth as a leader, could advance any listener's view of Moffett, as he overdubs fretless electric bass guitar, piccolo bass, and acoustic upright in a variety of different progressive jazz and ethnic contexts. Drummers Will Calhoun (Living Color) and Eric McPherson are on board; the band expands and contracts with guitarists and keyboardists; and Tibetan vocalist Yungchen Lhamo is included, making for a stew and brew of epic proportions. The more exotic works here are so intriguing they deserve additional listenings. "Enlightenment, Pt. I/II" is based in Middle Eastern, oud-like sounds and ethnic swing respectively; the outstanding track "The Awakening" adds tapped and bowed bass effects folded into a sound that is at once modal, kinetic, bright, ancient and modern. "We Pray" retains its folk ethnicity but is powered by Moffett's Jaco Pastorius-like lead sound up front, while "Swing Rock" keeps the Pastorius pulse, and only adds drums. A powerhouse theme, "The Story," has the bowed electric bass contrasted into choppy excursions and wah-wah fusion with neo-bop and classical overtones. Swing and funk are juxtaposed during "Moses," a soured tone in a 6/8 contrabass solo identifies "Elements of Life," and sister Angela Moffett recites poetry on the free piece "Dreams." Lhamo is most prominent on "Call for Peace" as her oohs and ahhs buoy Moffett's bowed acoustic bass. Perhaps Moffett's very best effort in his three-decade career, THE ART OF IMPROVISATION sums up where he came from, and where he's headed--into a fully formed identity as a leader who is now emerging in a singular voice.