When alto saxophonist Charles McPherson recorded McPherson’s Mood in 1969, jazz was going in many different directions. The jazz landscape offered everything from fusion, organ combos, and jazz-funk to modal, post-bop, and avant-garde jazz — a wide variety of experimentation was taking place. But McPherson was still a bebopper at heart, specifically, a bebopper who had a lot of Charlie “Bird” Parker in his tone and was a Bird disciple without being a Bird clone. McPherson’s Mood isn’t the least bit innovative (by 1969 standards), but it’s definitely solid and enjoyable. Joined by pianist Barry Harris, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Roy Brooks, McPherson sticks with what he does best — pure, unapologetic bebop — and Bird’s influence serves him well on exuberant originals like “Mish-Mash-Bash” and “Explorations,” as well as an enthusiastic, if conventional performance of the Cole Porter standard “I Get a Kick out of You.” Most of the time, McPherson’s Mood sounds like it could have been recorded in 1949 instead of 1969. But then, a 1949 session wouldn’t have included an interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour,” which the altoist successfully gives a lyrical bop makeover. McPherson wasn’t the only jazz instrumentalist who tackled “My Cherie Amour” in the late ’60s, but unlike the various organ combos that embraced Wonder’s charming soul-pop classic, McPherson isn’t trying to combine jazz and R&B. Instead, he shows us what “My Cherie Amour” might have sounded like if the melody had been around in the ’40s or early ’50s and Bird or Sonny Stitt had decided to interpret it. Again, McPherson’s Mood isn’t innovative or forward-thinking, but it’s well-worth obtaining for those seeking high-quality, swinging bebop along the lines of Bird, Stitt, Sonny Red, and Phil Woods. – Alex Hendersonmore »
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