Bob Moses – When Elephants Dream of Music

1983 – Gramavision Records


I hadn’t listened to, or heard of this album before today. I just picked it up based on knowing that Bob Moses is an incredible drummer, musician, and artist. What gave me another cursory level of approval was the musicians enlisted; included are Bill Frisell, David Friedman, Steve Swallow, Michael Formanek, Lyle Mays, and a bunch of others. If anything, this album would be an interesting listen to hear the interactions of those musicians. I’m now only into the second track on the first side “Picolo and Lulu” and I’m blown away! The writing and arrangements are amazing, musicianship is top notch, and it grooves like crazy. David Friedman sounds great on vibraphone and marimba here. I am glad I get to check him out, as I don’t believe I have anything of his on vinyl, and I’ve heard about his playing for a while. He is never front and center in the arrangements, but his playing is central to the tunes. His playing is original and jumps out at you as you listen. He complements other musicians as well as takes his own journeys through the sound. The rest of the band is spectacular as well. Compositionally, this album takes an almost New Orleans approach, but twists it to give it an edge. There is a lot of collective soloing with a steady groove behind it, but then backgrounds that seems to push against the beat creep in. It almost feels like two compositions are happening at once and they somehow line up perfectly. As I flip to side two, Frisell comes into the foreground. He has such a distinctive sound and while he isn’t soloing or the lead on the track, he is very much present and integral. The common thread throughout this album is the musicians making themselves stand out as part of the whole without thrusting themselves out front. That is a very complicated thing to do; to keep yourself playing very much for the piece, but identifying your playing as vital to the sound. This LP was a great find and I’m sure it is going to become a regular on my turntable.