Of the many notable albums that have been released in the past few years by Kansas City-based jazz musicians, only a few have pleased me more than Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle's new release The Freedom of Expression. In addition to documenting the formidable talent of several young musicians, the project serves as a reminder that everything is indeed up to date in Kansas City.
With the exception of "Liberation," the mainstream closing track, The Freedom of Expression is a bracing collection of modal neo-soul grooves. Imagine 1968-era Herbie Hancock filtered through 2009-era Robert Glasper.
Because I don't possess a physical copy of the album, I'm unsure of the specific credits. The core of the band is keyboardist Eddie Moore, guitarist Matt Hopper, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Matt Leifer. Saxophonists Erik Blume and Andy McGhie also make appearances.
Knowledge of such details isn't necessary to appreciate The Freedom of Expression. No one- not even Moore- attempts to draw excessive attention to his contributions. Even "Anger Management," the loudest track, maintains a pleasing low-key atmosphere. A few selections are hampered by an annoying buzz that I presume is emitted by an amp, a reflection of the session's casual vibe.
Yet listeners shouldn't confusing the relaxed ambience of The Freedom of Expression with nonchalance. The beautiful album represents an important touchstone in the evolution of Kansas City jazz.