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Notations from — Charnett Moffett


At 50, bassist Charnett Moffett is adamant about jazz: “The music has to stay honest and I think that’s what makes jazz music so great.” Moffett has not only shared the stage with such greats as Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman and McCoy Tyner, he’s created and shared notable albums of his own, such as “Music from Our Soul.” Moffettt is playing at the PDX Jazz Festival February 17th.  

You know how to speak the patois of jazz, but how does jazz speak to you?   Jazz is in all of us. My life is jazz. Think about it. Wherever you are, it’s jazz, because jazz is taking all the beautiful things and putting them together and expressing yourself and sharing it with others. What could be more challenging and inspiring than to look forward to do those things? Otherwise, you’d never have all the great music that’s made with so many different musicians from different walks of life, and phenomenal collaborations and various styles that’ve made great music on the planet for us to share.  

You’ve been given an hour to go to the Other Side to talk with a bassist who’s passed; whom would you choose?   Fortunately for me, the people I’m influenced by are still alive: Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke. One that comes to mind, though, is Ray Brown. I knew Ray. But I knew Ray when I was very young, so it would be very interesting to talk with him in this part of my life if I could. Maybe I’d have a little bit more understanding on the things he was sharing. Same goes for Milt Hinton and also my friend Jaco Pastorius.  

Why Pastorius?   Being a lover of both instruments [upright bass and bass guitar], naturally he’d be one I’d want to talk with now. He had an interesting life. Beautiful energy. We all have had leaps and bounds in life, so it’d be nice to share some of the ideas with him now, and evolve from some of those things and find a voice in a way we can use to tell our own story.  

Does it make a difference where you’re performing?   There’s big difference playing in America than Europe or Asia. You’re very sensitive and take all this into consideration so you can prepare to give honestly what you want to share with the audience. You really want to think about those things. Of course, you have the opportunity during sound check to take these things in, but the people are not there. Once people come in to enjoy the music, and you see how diversified the audience is, it really allows you to get grounded and center yourself so you can connect with them ultimately.  

What question do you wish an interviewer would ask you?   [Laughs] It’s always nice when someone says, “How are you doing?” Something that simple, as everything is so business-oriented, have to meet deadlines, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes people forget to ask a person how they’re doing. It’s good to check in on a human level and, no matter what our job function is, or what we’re aspiring to do, we’re all still just people on our own paths, our own journey,  seeking the love of life and sharing with others. At least that’s what I’m doing, and aspire to continue to do to grow as a human being.

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