The Moon Is Waiting (Palmetto Records; 2011)
Vic Juris (guitar)
Jukkis Uotila (drums, piano)
Rufus Reed (bass)
I have to admit I haven't listened to much of Tim Hagans' music in recent years. But I have always admired his ability to float and absorb different styles with each record. His Blue Note recordings from the late '90s (especially Animation Imagination) were early experiments of jazz and electronica that mostly European artists were exploring at the time. His latest, The Moon Is Waiting is a return of sorts, with less emphasis on electronics but still holding an expansion on his fusion ideals.
The opening three tracks were originally part of a dance ensemble performance but you would really never know that if you didn't read the liner notes. Hagans effectively has crafted three pieces that work perfectly on record as they do for the stage. This is a real sign of great compositional skill. The loose, funky rhythms of "Ornette's Waking Dream Of Woman" are powerful reminders of the best fusion material from Miles, McLaughlin and Zawinul. "First Jazz" is a beautiful number which Uotila and Juris sizzle. Their performs are measured but Hagans gives them a lot freedom within the piece. Hagans own perform is on fire when he breaks in midway. Uotila and Hagans then have a nice duet later in the piece that is killer. Both are flying with really intensity and depth.
"Boo" sees the quartet fusing a blues motif that Chicago and New Orleans would be proud of. Juris takes on a soulful and crying tone that is matched by the rest of the group. A rolling repetition in the chords allows you to sink into this number more than when it was originally recorded a few years back with a large ensemble. This time you get a deeper impact that is more heartfelt. "Things Happen In A Convertible" unfolds like a suite. It's midtempo throughout and each segment seems to highlight a different member. Romantic and endearing, "Things Happen In A Convertible" is a loving way to close out the experiments of the last hour. Great stuff.
While not having the chance to listening to Hagans music for quite a few years I was surprised how easy it was for me to fall back in love with his compositions and his playing. This just might be one of those under-the-radar records that you have must hear to believe. The Moon Is Waiting is wonderful.