“The Moon Singer”
On his recent recording, Morning Star (Blue Canoe), trumpeter Thomas Heflin creates the vibe of a late-night radio program, complete with a cool-talking DJ who informs listeners that they’re tuned into station WHEF. The music touches on jazz and neo-soul that one might hear in the wee hours, starting with the introspective and hopeful title track. Songs carry personal significance for Heflin, who relates in the press that “Morning Star” is the translation of his wife’s Slavic name; he also titles a selection for his daughter, Anna, and includes a composition by the late pianist James Williams (“Self-Esteem”), with whom he studied at William Patterson University. “The Moon Singer,” our selection, was inspired by a children’s book about a lonely boy who sings to himself in the forest. The lovely tune features wordless vocals by Ariel Pocock, as well as evocative leads and unisons by Heflin and tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy. Propelled by the rhythm section of bassist Steve Haines and drummer Xavier Ware, with additional colors from Aaron Matson’s guitar and Peter Stoltzman’s keyboards, the tune bears a mysterious, slightly menacing tone that’s overcome by the bright, heroic horns.