Picks and Pans Review: Visit with the Great Spirit

UPDATED 06/25/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/25/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Bob Moses

The son of a New York music publicist and friend of musicians, drummer Moses spent his childhood literally at the feet of such masters as Art Blakey, Duke Ellington, Rahsaan Roland Kirk and Charles Mingus. As a teenager he sat in with Kirk, Mingus and Eric Dolphy and in the '60s was a member of the original Gary Burton Quartet, with Larry Coryell on guitar. There's still a lot of Mingus in Moses—especially the way his raucous cacophonies give way to surprising voluptuousness. As to soloists (29 musicians contributed to this project in different configurations), Moses lets his people go. But like Mingus he tempers freedom with colorful ensemble passages and tight structures that further the concept of a piece. His composing and arranging seem natural extensions of the fecund, almost subliminal style of his drumming. His solos have an effortless quality. He gets a warm, round, resonant sound from his kit, and his phrases tumble and bound along as if wind-driven. He reminds you a little of Ed Blackwell, whose light, distinctive, almost chattering rhythms helped Ornette Coleman's first quartet make history in the '50s. Machupicchu begins with a layered rustle of voices speaking in English and Japanese, and the verbal montage uncannily prefigures the sound of Moses' entering drums. Surprising but accessible, Visit with the Great Spirit realizes the magical promise of its title—and there's even room on this LP for some chuckles. Referring to the extinction of the dinosaur, Moses writes in Monktional, "They took their dive/So that we can drive." (Gramavision)

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