Brian Charette: Moontrane

Sometimes a composition is so compelling you can never seem to hear a bad version of it. Thus far that has been true for me when it comes to Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane." I have heard this tune in all sorts of instrumental configurations. I have listened to both Woody Shaw and Dexter Gordon play it. I have even heard them play it together. But my two favorite interpretations are by B-3 organists. Larry Young's version on Unity is the benchmark. Granted, it didn't hurt to have the song's composer on trumpet, Joe Henderson on sax and Elvin Jones on drums! Still, the thrust of the melody came from Young. To my ears the organ gave "The Moontrane" more of a solid groove than the trumpet or saxophone did. Alongside Young's performance now stands Brian Charette's.

This "Moontrane" is short and stripped down. (Even its song title is truncated, with "The" falling through Charette's Missing Floor.) By simplifying the instrumentation to just himself on organ and Jochen Ruekert on drums, Charette gives the composition more room to breathe. This duo swings like hell. Your head will be involuntarily nodding in approval upon your first listen. Charette is not Larry Young. He makes his own way, as evidenced by the rest of this CD's wildly disparate cuts. Even so, he listened to Larry Young. And he knows that Young was a real killer on this number. Charette took a risk covering it, but his spare yet inventive approach paid off. You pay homage to your influences by sharing their taste but not their style.

January 03, 2009 · 0 comments


Larry Young: The Moontrane

An absolutely essential recording, Unity is also the template for the “progressive” jazz organ date. While it’s organist Larry Young’s date, Unity could also be thought of as Woody Shaw’s coming-out party as an important jazz composer, with three originals of his on the record. It’s also notable as an early document of the Woody/Joe Henderson front line. “The Moontrane” has become a modern jazz standard, subsequently recorded by Woody in a number of recordings, both studio and live. While his solos on later versions, such as the 1975 recording on Muse, may have more reach and fire, I have a special regard for the solo statements of young Woody on this first version from 1965. This record has been a real touchstone for musicians ever since it came out, and I vividly remember my own excitement in first hearing it over 30 years ago!

September 17, 2008 · 0 comments


Dexter Gordon: The Moontrane

I have loved every version of Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane" I ever heard. This one is no exception. After 30 years, it still grabs me. If there were still real jazz shows on the radio, this would be the perfect theme song. Gordon's introduction is an exposition of somber nuance. It is deep and rich. The band, sounding big-band, kicks right into this swinging arrangement. Dexter takes the first powerful solo. He was just back from his self-imposed European exile and is sounding great! The composer, Shaw himself, plays the second solo the way the composer of this song should. The tune is filled out with a full assault on its main riff. "The Moontrane" is a driving tune that everyone should have in their collection.

By the way, I did use this rendition of "The Moontrane" as the theme to my own college radio show "Jazz Journey with Walter Kay" way back in 1979. We blasted this baby into the night sky with as much power as our 10 watts could muster!

March 04, 2008 · 0 comments


Previous Page | Next Page