Conventional wisdom among jazz musicians is that the real test of artistry lies not in the ability to negotiate complex chord structures at the speed of light, but to play convincingly at slow tempos. Mundell Lowe put that theory to the test in Guitar Moods, challenging his imaginative powers with a dozen ballads at tempos in a range from slow to almost nonexistent. Improvisers intimidated by the unhurried ballad’s unavoidable requirement to think often avoid the problem by doubling the established tempo and falling back on familiar patterns of notes. Lowe, a deep thinker and a consummate guitarist, uses no such trick because he doesn’t need to. He observes the melodies of these cherished standard songs, sometimes embellishing them a bit, sometimes using their harmonies as touchstones for lovely melodies of his own. It is an album of mood music for the mind as well as the spirit.
with Trigger Alpert, Phil Bodner, Al Klink, Ed Shaughnessy