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Charnett Moffett: Blue Note for an "Internet" Magician

By Deardra Shuler

Ingenious bassist, Charnett Moffett, stood center stage at the Blue Note Jazz Club, surrounded by his accompaniment consisting of Mulgrew Miller on piano; drummer Eric McPherson and saxophonist Vincent Herring. Bass man, generally sideman, Moffett takes the lead and understands how to pull strings in order to cajole rapt respect from both his audience and his stringed instruments.

Charnett is a creative force. That is adeptly shown as he blends a bit of theatrics with a whole lot of musical aplomb. The room stirs as Moffett strokes his bass and his ensemble of acoustical arco and pizzicato guitars. The instruments jump to attention while Moffett coaxes from each willing instrument a haunting refrain. An acoustical magic takes place that turns the electrical instrument into a sitar when playing Free Raga from his new CD “Internet.” “Icon Blues,” “Jubilant,” and “Internet” follow among others; drawing sounds from his guitar that only a masterful magician can manifest.

Moffett picks up his bass and plays another song from “Internet” and the mood changes dramatically. He strokes; slow downward strokes, cruising, pushing the bass, making it jam. He switches to his electrical guitar making it zing, making it sing, while the piano speaks, joining as two, becoming one. The sax peels, accelerating, building. The drum beats, heart pounding -- building, stroking, faster, faster, harder, wilder. Rhythms collide; thumping, pounding, stroking fast, then faster and faster. It crescendos and explodes -- POW! The crowd gasps, sigh, and then slowly let their breath steady. It’s over. The music has climaxed. Moffett stands on stage, exhausted. Sweat pouring from his every pore, a slight smile adorns his face. He’s played his bolero; he’s spell bound his audience and left them eager for more.

“I chose the name Internet for my new CD, because it seemed apropos for the music I wanted to do on this particular project. I thought it was a catchy name and it had something to do with the play on names, ‘Internet,’ ‘Charnett,’ that kind of thing,” explained Charnett about his latest CD offering. “This is a jazz album but it is very open to other influences. No matter where you are in the world, there is one sky. That is the concept of this album, connecting people and music from all over the world together, like the Internet. I have traditional jazz and free jazz on the CD. There is folk, pop, rock. There are many forms of improvisation on this CD” claims the rhythm player.

Born a child prodigy, in New York City, Moffett attended Juilliard and the Performing Arts at Manhattan College. The 39 year old bassist has been playing professionally for nearly 25 years. As a result, he is an exacting virtuoso who often leads as well as serves as sideman in the bands of Ornette Coleman and Wynton Marsalis. Charnett Moffett has proven to be a composer in his own right with “Internet” being his ninth CD. The songs on Internet are made up entirely of Moffett’s own compositions, except for his version of the Star Spangled Banner.

Moffett first started performing in his father’s band when at 8 years old he traveled with the Moffett band to Japan. Born into a family of musicians the recording “For the Love of Peace,” was primarily a family affair which he recorded in 2004 on Piadrum Records featuring his brothers Codaryl Cody Moffett on drums and Mondre Moffett on trumpet. The recording also featured Scott Brown on piano. Initially, Charnett, toured with the family band but eight years later, he found himself touring with Wynton Marsalis whom he remained with for a number of years. He went on to play with many other jazz musicians which included a 9 year stint with Ornette Coleman.

“Working with Ornette Coleman was wonderful. Coleman is an institution into himself. Wynton Marsalis is an incredible artist that strives for perfection and brings out the best in those who play with him. McCoy Tyner taught me how to groove in the environment and make the best of a situation. Tyner honed his craft with Coltrane. I even played with Art Blakey so I have had the opportunity to play with a lot of wonderful talent and each one has taught me something. I feel I have taught them something, too. As artists we learn from one another” stated Moffett.

“I believe a gift from a higher power put me on my road today in terms of the instruments I play. I started out on drums and played trumpet for a while and some piano. But the bass best expresses my voice since I also do some things vocally on “Internet” – songs like Enjoy your Life” said the multi-talented musician who has also scored music for film.

“Having been on tour and traveling for the last 6 or 7 years, I get a view that you don’t often hear on the news. I think more positive things are happening then reported. It might be that music brings people together but personally I think in order to make progress we should focus on the human aspect and see cultures in a positive light. As I said, music brings people together, even if it’s only for a short period of time,” remarked Charnett of his world view. Moffett plans to tour with McCoy Tyner in upcoming months. “I have been forming my own band for eternity. I play with artists I felt comfortable with as part of the Charnett Moffett band” said the father of two. “My band is a work in progress. I continue to perform and sometimes I may do that in a solo capacity, in a trio format, as a quartet, sextet, or even octet.” claimed Charnett.

“Life moves on and things change. Everything you do comes back to you. Each person knows whether they in harmony with themselves irrespective of what others may say. Ultimately, each of us answers to our own heart.”

To learn more about Charnett Moffett see: http://www.piadrum.com/Charnett_Moffett_Bio.htm

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