The Moore-McColl Jazz Society, Up and Gone Review
Grooving Forward: The Moore-McColl Jazz Society’s Bold Up and Gone
by Sylvannia Garutch
The Moore-McColl Jazz Society, emerging from the vibrant jazz scene of Atlanta, Georgia, has once again demonstrated their unparalleled prowess in blending historical musical sensibilities with a modern twist in their latest offering, Up and Gone. Beth Moore and Chance McColl, the dynamic duo at the heart of this ensemble, continue to redefine the boundaries of jazz, infusing it with elements of blues and 70s funk, resulting in a sound that is as nostalgic as it is groundbreaking.
Up and Gone is eight songs that blend jazz fusion and ’70s funk, brought to life by a collective of seasoned musicians under the meticulous direction of its core members, Moore and McColl. With her multifaceted talents on vocals, keys, the Fender Rhodes, and the Hammond B3 organ, Moore teams up with McColl, whose skills span the electric and acoustic guitar, complemented by his vocal contributions. The ensemble is further enriched by Tim Aucoin on both acoustic and electric bass, Joel Morris providing the rhythmic backbone on drums and percussion, and the vibrant horn section featuring Randy Hunter on alto saxophone (featured in “No Apology” and “Sojourn in A Minor”), Caleb Lattimore and Justin Powell on trumpet, and Declan Ward on alto saxophone.
Up and Gone distinguishes itself from the outset with its bold homage to the 70s jazz-funk era, particularly evident in tracks like “What’s Still Happening!!” and the title track “Up and Gone.” These compositions encapsulate the spirit of a bygone era, with their gritty B-3 organ tones and trumpet solos, reminiscent of classic 70s cop shows. This nostalgic journey is further accentuated by the production choices, such as Joey Jones’ addition of phaser effects to the guitar tracks, artfully capturing the essence of the decade.
The album’s eclectic nature is highlighted in “Somebody Calling,” a cover of Robin Trower’s song, which showcases the band’s willingness to push their musical boundaries. Using overdubbed guitars, a Univibe, and a talkbox adds layers of complexity and innovation, demonstrating the band’s versatility and ability to adapt and reinterpret other genres within their jazz framework.
One of the album’s standout moments is “Sunlit Flower (Against the Sky),” a track that strips back the layers to reveal a more intimate, acoustic setting. This song, along with “Back to Atlanta,” a soulful tribute to McColl’s hometown, showcases the duo’s ability to evoke deep emotions through more straightforward, more direct compositions. These tracks are a testament to the duo’s versatility and understanding of subtlety’s power in music.
The album also pays tribute to jazz legends, as seen in “A Song for Vince,” a nod to Vince Guaraldi. It’s in these tributes and through ample solo spaces, like in “Sojourn in A Minor,” that the true depth of the band’s musicality shines. The performances of Hunter on saxophone and Powell on trumpet are excellent, demonstrating the high caliber of talent the band collaborates with.
Concluding with “No Apology,” a track that blends a funky riff with gritty, soulful vocals, the album leaves the listener with a sense of fulfillment and excitement. With its unapologetic use of a wah-wah pedal in a jazz record, this track encapsulates the band’s ethos of innovation and their fearless approach to genre blending.
This auditory feast was brought into being through the combined efforts of several key figures in the music production world. Joey Jones engineered and recorded the album at The Greenhouse Atlanta, ensuring each note and rhythm was captured with clarity and authenticity. Tom Tapley, renowned for his work in West End Sound, took charge of mixing and blending the diverse elements into a cohesive and dynamic sound. Additional engineering support was provided by Miles Landrum, further enhancing the album’s intricate soundscapes. Mastering was handled by Billy Bowers, giving the album its polished finish. The production of this album was a collaborative effort, with Joey Jones, Tom Tapley, Chance McColl, and Beth Moore all taking on production roles. Chance McColl also served as the executive producer, guiding the project to fruition.
Up and Gone represents a significant milestone in the ever-evolving discography of The Moore-McColl Jazz Society. Demonstrating a profound commitment to jazz’s rich legacy, the ensemble skillfully weaves elements from the 70s jazz-funk era into their unique jazz sound. This third release solidifies their distinctive identity in the jazz world and their expanding influence beyond traditional jazz boundaries. The Moore-McColl Jazz Society’s innovative spirit and ability to resonate with a diverse audience makes for an exciting chapter in their artistic journey.