This 2010 Spicerack Records release is the pianist's most adventuresome and eclectic set to date. Available on CDBaby
Pamela Hines's previous CD, This Heart Of Mine, was a thoughtful set of solo piano improvisations that, even with the inclusion of a few cookers, was often romantic and laidback. Moon Germs, with a trio of John Lockwood on bass and Bob Gullotti on drums, is something a bit different. Throughout Moon Germs, Pamela is constantly pushing herself, stretching her boundaries into post bop and freer areas of jazz while still displaying her own distinctive musical personality.
I wanted this to be a high energy CD, one that was happy and where we could all go for it. The most challenging part to this date was to have a tune like 'Let's Fall in Love,' that has been out for a long time, and do something a bit different with it." Let's Fall In Love" has been a standard since the 1930s but rarely ever performed as Pamela and her trio play it, as an up-tempo romp in 5/4 time. The pianist swings hard and makes the song sound quite natural in this time signature.
Her Itchy" is one of two numbers that have trumpeter Darren Barrett and tenor-saxophonist Greg Dudzienski making the group a quintet. Pamela has played with both of the horn players for several years and, now that Dudzienski has moved to the Newport, Rhode Island area, they have had more opportunities to work together. Itchy" is a quirky tune that alternates between an infectious groove (hinting at a New Orleans parade) and brief sections of straight ahead swinging. While the melody is more modern, the two horns work together a bit like Blue Mitchell and Junior Cook did with Horace Silver. A highlight is when Barrett and Dudzienski jam together while just accompanied by Gullotti's drums.
Fools Rush In" is a conventional trio ballad performance except that, by playing it in the key of B, it gave Pamela an opportunity to come up with fresh variations. Joe Farrell's Moon Germs" was originally a funk-oriented blues, but this version really opens it up. Pamela was clearly inspired by her sidemen and she is quite inventive throughout, as are Lockwood and Gullotti. The quintet ballad Lavender" is one of Pamela's most rewarding compositions, letting emotions come through over busier note possibilities. Complications" has a fairly simple melody but harmonies that are constantly changing. This piece offers a superior example of the close interplay and near-telepathic communication that Pamela has with her sidemen.
Invitation" was first recorded by the trio as a straightforward straight ahead piece. But on the second session, I asked John and Bob if we could do it as a free interpretative performance." The results, heard on two versions taken from the second date, are utterly fascinating, reminding one that Lockwood and Gullotti play together regularly with saxophonist George Garzone in The Fringe. Their comfort and even eagerness to play freely inspires Pamela to create some of her most adventurous playing.
Pamela gives Bill Evans' Show-Type Tune" a high energy and boppish approach. Zonegar" is named after George Garzone. He is a master of the random triad concept. I set up a blues and then did entire choruses of his concept." The end result is a classic bebop blues. Christopher Street" is dedicated to a street in Greenwich Village. Pamela sought to portray the hustle and bustle of the area. Once again the interplay that takes place between the trio sounds both effortless and magical.
Moon Germs concludes with the second version of Variation On Invitation." Needless to say, this free rendition has completely different ideas than the first one and is equally rewarding.
Overall, Moon Germs is a fun and happy set of unpredictable jazz. For the future, Pamela Hines says, All I know is that I can't play anything but jazz. Jazz is all that I want to play. That is the essence of my soul." After listening to Moon Germs, no one is going to try to talk her out of it!