Mood Music for Time Travellers

With Mood Music for Time Travellers, this whimsically named 10-piece band celebrates its 25th year with its 10th release. Writing about their first album—1986’s Dial “E”—in the September 1987 issue of JazzTimes, I hoorahed some of the players but wrote, “They do a credible job of interpreting [Thelonious] Monk, [Sonny] Rollins and [Rahsaan Roland] Kirk,” then rather damned them with faint praise by adding, “All in all, not bad for their first time on vinyl.” I lost track of them in the intervening years during which this Boston-based group, led by saxophonist Russ Gershon, has, for the last seven, become very involved with Ethiopian music and that country’s musicians. However, the emphasis here is on “American sounds” and the 10 tracks include such Latin-flavored/focused tunes as “Latin Dimensions” and “Suriname” (“South African calypso in 13/4”), which feature their potent two-man percussion team. The haunting tango (“in the Ethopian anchi hoye mode”) “Thirty Five” features the leader’s soprano sax and pianist Rafael Alcala and reminds me of the Claude Thornhill Orchestra of the ’40s, whose music it was said “sounds like lace going over a waterfall.” Magnificent music and a fitting tribute to a quarter-century of work.