Bassist Charnett Moffett shouldn't be known as a songwriter. "Song" brings to mind something too structured. Charnett writes… imagery, and he uses an intricate brush. His latest album, "Treasure," is best listened to through the prism of the rest of the album.
"Swing Street" opens the entire excursion, and Charnett's unique World instrumentation pulls you into a Bourbon Street in India. The album stays strong through "The Celebration" and "The Things of Swing," and guitarist Stanley Jordan joins the ensemble. The listener will undoubtedly wish Stanley would offer his two cents more often through the album, but alas, he only graces these two. "Say La" falls a little flat, but is quickly buoyed by "Beam Me Up." This track showcases Charnett's intense finger workout, causing the listener to wonder just what this must look like live.
"Praise" lowers the intensity, and would be a nicely placed reprieve from the frenetic pace of "Beam Me Up," but drummer Rodney Holms seems to want to head off in a different direction. "Country Blues" is a virtuoso piece that once again shows how Charnett can conjure up vivid imagery in his writing, and "Down Up Blues" falls right in line, bringing on a few more instrumental elements. It must be pointed out, however, that the listener can find plenty of space where a Stanley Jordan riff would fit nicely, and space could be made for pianist Casimir Liberski to insert his opinion as he so artfully did in the first six cuts.
"Say La La" is a reprise of "Say La," and either of these two are not the album's strongest points. The only vocals belong to these two tracks, and they are very earthy and raw, which certainly adds to the texture, yet seems slightly out of place.
The title track "Treasure" is a little inadequate, and as "Sound Healing I" and "Sound Healing II" finish off the album, the listener is drawn to repeat the first two thirds of the album and leave off the last four cuts.
All in all, "Treasure" is a departure from the expected, and has many peaks. Charnett's larger ensemble work provides the best outlet for his brilliant use of unique instrumentation and his distinctive yet entirely engaging style of jazz. ------SAM POND