Reflecting on the inspiring spiritual presence of John Coltrane, Ruby Bridges (the first student to desegregate an all-white New Orleans Elementary School in 1960), and spiritual writer and social activist, Thomas Merton, Chicago guitarist John Moulder composed this set of music in celebration of their ongoing influence. 'Earthborn Tales of Soul and Spirit' features saxophonist Donny McCaslin and trumpeter Marquis Hill, along with a cast of Moulder's longtime musical colleagues, including drummer Paul Wertico, bassists Steve Rodby, Larry Gray & Eric Hochberg, and others. 'The radiant, life-affirming glow of this music is unmistakable.'
At the beginning of BIFROST, the sound from John Moulder and his half-American, half-Norwegian quintet is fairly exploratory, ambient. By the end of that first title track, though, the sound has developed into full electric guitar mania. Moulder has his way with his guitar, to say the least. Quickly going into the next piece, though, Moulder and band morph into an early morning, introspective sound.
John Hammond's latest album marks a major departure in one respect – for the first time in anyone's memory, he sings, but plays nothing on one of his records, while Little Charlie & the Nightcats, led by guitarist Charlie Baty, handle the guitars and everything else. The difference is very subtle, the playing maybe a little less flashy than Hammond's already restrained work – think of how good Muddy Waters sounded on the early-'60s records where he sang and didn't play. And that comparison is an apt one – even more than 35 years after he started, Hammond inevitably ends up sounding like its 1961 and he's working at Chess studios in Chicago, cutting songs between Muddy Waters sessions. Harpist Rick Estrin also contributes a smooth and eminently enjoyable original amid a brace of covers of blues standards. There is not a weak number here, and this band is a kick to listen to, sounding more naturally authentic than anybody in the 1990's has a right to (Baty's quiet pyrotechnics on "Lookin' for Trouble" would make this record worth owning, even if Hammond's singing and the rest of the songs weren't as good as they are).