Charnett Moffett has established some an impressive, and lengthy, resumé during the twenty years that he has been performing professionally. Even before he started with Wynton Marsalis’ group in 1983, Moffett was performing informally with his family of musicians and singers, including with his father, Charles, who established a career playing drums with some of the more adventurous musicians of his generation, including Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Sanders, Carla Bley and Sonny Rollins. Now that Charles, Sr. has passed, his offspring are carrying on, being represented in Charnett’s latest recording, For The Love Of Peace.
While the CD certainly features Moffett’s extraordinary technique on bass, both acoustic and electric, not to mention his ability to transfer spiritual meaning through music, it also becomes a family event as it includes his brothers Codaryl Cody on drums and Mondre Moffett on trumpet; sister Charisse on vocals; and wife Angela on spoken word. For The Love Of Peace
(certainly a timely theme at the moment) consists of 14 pieces that commences with Moffett’s bowed Middle Eastern-flavored "In The Beginning," as if a dawning occurs, and immediately into his testament of faith, "I Love The Lord," on which Mondre joins in the languid modally based tune after Charnett’s warm pizzicato introduction on acoustic bass. However, the freedom of playing with which the Moffett family is associated actually starts on the third track, "Numbers," metrically loose and melodically adventurous as Mondre creates his own statement without the confinement of a tightly structured composition. And "Numbers" is where Charnett employs his own imitable technique to engage in freely expressed colloquy with drummer Codaryl Cody. Then on "Go Placidly," the entire group burns through a restatement of "I’ve Got Rhythm," Mondre on muted buzzing trumpet and Charnett pushing with walking well, speed walking bass, while Angela comes in with words for living like these: "Go placidly/Amid the noise and hate./Remember what peace there may be in silence./Be on good terms with all persons./Speak your truth quietly and clearly./And listen to others,/Even the dull and ignorant/For they too have their stories." And she does it again when she assumes the attitude of a homeless person on the swaying waltz of "Who Took My Shopping Cart": "Night falls./Day comes./The cycle of life never seems to cease./Up the hill/Down the alley/This shopping cart holds me dearly."
And so she puts into words the narratives that support the family’s beliefs that otherwise would have been expressed through notes, powerful though they may be. "Mercy And Grace" adopts Ornette’s concept of harmolodics, the piece being played at times as a canon as pianist Scott Brown repeats Mondre’s phrases, and actually makes them dissonant by playing the melody in two-note half-tone chords. On the next track, "The Movement Of Freedom," Charnett plays bass guitar to pronounce the motive with exacting articulation, Latin in its feel, as Codaryl Cody brushes a rhythm that’s separate in feel and still supportive of the movement. For The Love Of Peace
ends with Charnett’s ten-minute solo statement on acoustic bass of "For The Love Of Peace," which is arranged in three parts that allow for an expanded performance ranging from a subdued introduction to an uplifting middle section and a final technically inspiring final part.
While bass players infrequently release their own recordings, mainly because of their usual status of sidemen, occasionally a CD of special merit by a bass player is released. Such is the case with Moffett’s For The Love Of Peace,
which comprises a statement of faith and belief and summarizes his vast range of experiences in a high-profile career.