John Moulder

The Eleventh Hour


MUSIC REVIEW BY Dan Healy, Chicago Jazz Magazine


The Eleventh Hour: Live At The Green Mill features guitarist John Moulder showcasing his original compositions with a stunning quintet. To put it succinctly, this recording represents modern jazz at its best. Moulder?s compositions are amazingly creative and stimulating, taking fascinating twists and turns and also giving his talented bandmates the freedom to explore and take his pieces in unexpected musical directions.

The group performs Moulder?s compositions with tremendous skill, and they musically blend in a way that sounds as if they have been playing together for several years. Moulder has long been recognized as one of the finest guitarists in Chicago. On this recording, his excellent playing contains hues of Abercrombie and Scofield but he plays with a modernist sparkle all his own. Much like another great modern guitarist, Pat Metheny, Moulder writes thoroughly composed tunes with unusual forms and harmonies, as well as soaring lyrical melodies. Geof Bradfield is one of the top modern saxophonists on the scene today. He plays virtuosic, colorful solos and, in particular, it is fascinating to hear him let the rhythm section ?play him? in certain parts of this recording. Jim Trompeter ratchets up the intensity of many tunes with his galvanizing solos. Larry Gray and Paul Wertico display uncanny musical sympathy, reacting to every musical twist and turn, while taking excellent solos themselves.

Moulder begins the live recording with a full tilt burner entitled ?Proclamation of the Unexpected,? followed by ?African Sunset,? an oblique 5/4 tune that makes great use of the guitarist?s pedal effects and features dazzling bass accompaniment from Gray. Moulder has long been a master of solo guitar intros, as he ably demonstrates on his masterful introduction to ?Cold Sea Triptych.? The intro leads to a wonderful swirling guitar ostinato. Only after wonderful solo turns by Trompeter and Moulder does the tune?s main melody appear, performed by Bradfield.

?The Eleventh? is simply an all out groover. Trompeter leads off with an outstanding solo that has shades of McCoy Tyner, followed an equally inventive solo by Moulder. Bradfield follows with an amazingly virtuosic turn and Wertico rounds out the tune with a terrific solo that makes this one of the best tracks on the recording. ?Gateway? is an aptly named composition that journeys from Moulder?s hypnotic reading of the melody through a scintillating interlude into Bradfield?s intense performance of the same melody. Moulder plays an awe-inspiring solo perfectly complimented by Wertico?s unwavering intensity.

The band?s rendition of ?Magical Space? is fascinating, particularly as the same melody is taken through so many musical approaches, from Moulder?s evocative solo performance of the melody to Wertico?s intense accompaniment towards the end of the track (in this way ?Magical Space? is reminiscent of Miles Davis?s classic recording of ?Nefertiti?). ?Magical Space? also features one of the more poignant Moulder solos on the recording. Moulder?s ?Creation? is another beautiful, ethereal ballad. Bradfield?s performance of the melody is perfectly complimented by Moulder?s haunting pedal effect accompaniment. This tune features a wonderfully serpentine solo from Bradfield and one of the most lyrical Trompeter solos on the disc, as well as tremendous accompaniment from Gray and Wertico. This fantastic live recording closes on an exciting note with ?Time Being,? a delectable melody that features a lovely countermelody played by Moulder. After a rousing solo by Trompeter, to put it as simply as possible, Moulder completely ?rocks out,? ending this wonderful disc on an electrifying note.





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