The first "jazz" show I stumbled into was in 1979, a seemingly odd double bill that paired the Bill Evans Trio (with Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera) and the then very popular fusion group Oregon. It was a life changing evening for me because I got an incredible first helping of the sheer sweep and depth of jazz. I especially remember focusing on the bass players in both groups and how Johnson and Moore kept very different time but both were inseparable from the music's energy, prodding the music with a quiet force that thrummed up into the first balcony where I was seated.
Following the performance, I was told by my high school music teacher that Oregon had no business being on the same stage as Evans (let alone headlining the show, which they did). Being joyfully naive to the concept of "legitimate jazz" and the music's alleged senior elite, I disagreed. To my ears, both groups were immensely talented and driven by a devotion to the power of the exploratory in music. Both groups were an incredible initiation for me into the fertile terrain of improvisatory music.
Twenty years later, I still feel that way (and have always imagined Mr. Evans would support me - why else would he have played on the bill). With Oregon, Glen Moore took part in what was perhaps one of the first world music and jazz fusion experiments - even before there was such a genre as "World Music." It's that type of anti-commercial bravery which has made Moore one of the consummate artists on his instrument. Seeing a '97 Oregon show, reaffirmed this.
After many projects and even a solo bass outing, the ever-adventurous bassist here gets back in his group think mode, On Nude Bass Ascending... Moore surrounds himself with past friends and collaborators - electric bassist Steve Swallow, Carla Bley on organ and oud alchemist Rabih Abou-Khalil. It's likely a line-up you haven't heard before and the ensemble creates textures much different from his Oregon work.
Despite the bass on bass pairing, there’s nothing rhythm heavy about the approach and both Moore and Swallow carry their share of melody. Surprises are: the duets with Abou-Khalil and the frenetic soul of his Arabic mandolin; and Bley, who brings the organ back to church after its too-long tenure in the chicken shack. Moore shines as a nimble soloist plucking melodic lines from his double bass with a proud and resonant tone. But most surprising are his compositions. From "Moot" to "Roots in the Sky 2" Moore’s pieces combine world music exotica with jazz harmonics and the wit and freedom that these long-term musical relationships allow. Call this Ambient/World Fusion with a jocular edge. Or call it an ever-daring jazz artist exploring yet another path in a varied career of music making.