Some of you may be familiar with sax/flautist Joe Farrell for his work with the original and last incarnation of Return To Forever or for his stint with Elvin Jones. Farrell had an extensive career and recorded a good chunk of his discography for Creed Taylor's CTI label. While that label later devolved into smooth jazz schlock the early 70s releases on the label were stellar - easily on par with Blue Note. In fact Rudy Van Gelder handled the knobs for most of the CTI releases back then. Moon Germs is no exception. While most of Farrell's work for CTI was uniformly excellent there has to be a pinnacle and Moon Germs is it. Check out this line up:
Joe Farrell: flute and soprano sax
Herbie Hancock: electric and acoustic piano
Stanley Clarke: bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums
This is the epitome of classic kosmigroov. Its pure electric jazz. All four musicians are playing their nuts off. Herbie sends his electric piano into overdrive. DeJohnette doesn't stray too often into rock territory so I wouldn't call this jazz rock although it certainly has that energy. Clarke is insane on this record playing bass like John Entwhistle. The album is just four tracks of highly frenetic but also highly melodic jazz that will blast your noggin into the stratosphere. If you are a fan of fusion and are interested in moving backwards in time a bit this one would be a great place to start. If you are a fan of kosmigroov and don't own this already you need to - its a cornerstone of your collection. BUY OR DIE!
"Recorded in 1972 and released in 1973 with Herbie Hancock, Stanley Clarke, and Jack DeJohnette, Joe Farrell's Moon Germs was a foray into the electric side of jazz. On the opener, "Great George," Farrell leads off with the hint of a melody before careening into legato streams of thought along striated intervallic paths. DeJohnette is like a machine gun, quadruple-timing the band as Clarke moves against the grain in a series of fours and eights, and Hancock's attempts to keep the entire thing anchored are almost for naught. On the title track there is more of a funk backdrop, but the complex, angular runs and insane harmonic reaches Farrell attempts on his soprano, crack, falter, and ultimately turn into something else; the sheer busy-ness of the track is dazzling. "Bass Folk Song" by Clarke, is the only thing on the record that actively engages melody rather than harmonic structures. Farrell uses his flute and Hancock strides into the same kind of territory he explored with Miles Davis, chopping up chordal phrases into single lines and feeding them wholesale to the running pair of frontmen--in this case Clarke and Farrell. DeJohnette uses a Latin backdrop to hang his drumming on and pursues a circular, hypnotic groove on the cymbals and toms. It's a gorgeous piece of music and utilizes an aspect of space within the melodic frame that the rest of these firebrand tunes do not. This is sci-fi Farrell at his creative best." - Allmusic