Max Moran is best known as a member of the Bridge Trio as well as a bassist who’s much-called up on the New Orleans jazz scene. His most prevalent environment is straight-ahead, post-bop jazz. Therefore, on Neospectric’s first cut, it comes as a surprise to hear Fiend, a hometown rapper, declare, “Welcome to the funk,” over the band riffin’ on a beat laid down by drummer A.J. Hall. The large ensemble here is also horn-heavy with the arrangements provided by alto saxophonist Khris Royal. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton steps out for a hip solo that is both jazz-wise and funky.
Throughout the album, musicians vary as do the styles of the material all coming from Moran’s pen. Rhythm plays an important part of the overall sound as drummers Hall, Alfred Jordan, Jamison Ross, Peter Varnado and Joe Dyson swap out the seat with percussionist Weedie Braimah. This emphasis makes sense as most would agree that there’s nothing more important to a bassist than solid drumming.
The atmosphere quiets on “Summer,” a ballad sung by Moran. It’s probably safe to say that few knew the bassist’s talents as a vocalist. He comes to the microphone again, with background vocals by Dyson, on the smooth groove of “Continuation” with Shea Pierre on organ and special guest alto saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr.
A few cuts seem to lose the bass in the clutter of electronics though the collective group does find their way to a mutual understanding. When the horns are on board, as heard on “Revenge”—with Moran back on vocals—their true tones take the sound back home.
Neospectric finds its strength from Moran’s superior compositions played by some of New Orleans’ most accomplished musicians.