I wish I liked James Moody’s Homage, because my admiration for Moody is boundless (what other bop saxophonist has stayed so up-to-date without sounding desperate?), and because commissioning pieces by Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Horace Silver, among others, sounded like a surefire idea, as did asking Moody to leave his flute at home. But even though producer Bob Belden’s brass arrangements are attractively choirlike, only Silver’s rousing “When Lucy Smiles at Me” gives Moody something to bounce off. And let’s not even talk about Joe Zawinul’s Martin Denny-meets-techno-meets-smoove-jazz opener or Moody’s valedictory rap. I was going to say that Moody has never made an album that captures his full glory. Then I remembered his two-tenor rips with Gene Ammons, Dexter Gordon, Al Cohn, and Mark Turner. For such a nice guy, he’s got a warrior’s instincts. Anybody have Von Freeman’s number? That matchup would make repertoire incidental.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 24, 2004