The Moore McColl Jazz Society – Electric Fantastic
Electric Fantastic is the debut album of Beth Moore and Chance McColl, collectively The Moore-McColl Jazz Society. They have know each other and collaborated for years but this album sees their first start-to-finish project with one of the other of them writing or co-writing eight of the nine tracks on the album.
They recruited Tim Aucoin on bass and Joel Morris on drums, two of Atlanta’s first-call artists. Chance describes the other artists on the album. “I then used a family connection to reach outside of Atlanta. My nephew Declan Ward from Tampa plays alto sax and his schoolmate Caleb Lattimore plays trumpet.” Joining them is Christopher Alpiar on tenor sax. Beth Moore handles all the keyboards and Chance McColl is on electric guitar. Both of them contribute to the vocals.
It has to be said from the start—this is a riotously fun album but don’t mistake that for anything less than flawless execution in composing and performance. They hardest thing is to make the demanding look easy and they do it to near-perfection.
Electric Fantastic opens the album. It is a McColl original that opens with a raucous introduction that leads into extraordinary solos from all concerned. Now this is how you begin an album. Beth’s rollicking Hammond B3 with some fine wailing guitar from Chance. Then the horns get their turns and they don’t waste any time in showing you why they are on this album. Aucoin and Morris lock in the rhythm section and we are off to the races. Without even hearing the second track, you are hooked.
Like a Symphony, an original from Beth Moore, follows next. Her delicate piano accompanies her extraordinary vocals and the horn section punctuates the movement of the song. Beth’s vocals grab you from the first phrases. Pay attention to Joel Morris’ drumming. Then Chance works his magic on a subtle guitar.
Chance’s 800 East kicks off with a strummed guitar that is joined by Beth’s Hammond and bass and drums. The horns get in some excellent work but Chance and Beth own the show. You have to love Aucoin’s bass solo.
Beth’s Bounce (Moore) has a cool samba opening complete with the Brazilian-type percussion. The horns add hot passages and bass and drums make their presence known. Makes you want to dance. And I don’t dance.
A surprise comes next with Supertramp’s The Logical Song (Davies and Hodgson) from their chart-busting album Breakfast in America. While the original was meant to be thoughtful, even melancholy, Supertramp never made it much more than a faux-progressive angst-anthem. Under Beth’s arrangement and vocals, it becomes the Bluesy reflection that it always should have been.
McColl’s I Remember Danny Gatton is a magnificent showcase for Chance’s exquisite guitar. With hints of Americana, the song transcends several genres in voices that are warm and touching. Aucoin and Morris are right on the money. Beth’s piano is just so fine. But that guitar…
McColl follows up with another co-written original, If You Really Loved Me. Chance adds his own vocals here in his laid-back style. Beth is on the B3 and the Blues have seldom sounded better.
McColl and Moore co-authored Blues for Lonnie Williams. Lonnie Williams was that Jazz guitar and Jazz violin master who may have been the very first to show off single-note soloing through bent notes and vibrato. The great Robert Johnson was entirely influenced by Lonnie. Chance and Beth do great homage to Lonnie Johnson in this piece. Caleb Lattimore’s warm trumpet is sweet and sad and the saxes carry the Blues forward.
The album closes with Beth’s Words. Beautiful piano and wondrous vocals from Beth are joined with that extra fine guitar from Chance. The bass and drums are beautifully understated.
Electric Fantastic is a monument to debut albums with catchy tunes and extraordinary musicianship from everyone concerned. The compositions are excellent and the performances are stellar. If you are feeling down from the world around you, escape into Electric Fantastic.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl