The Roger Webb Sound’s Moonshade is one of the coolest records ever. Originally appearing via the legendary De Wolfe library in 1971, it’s a sumptuous jazz-soul-funk instrumental set, full of melodic, melancholic yet sun-drenched songs, rich with color and contrast. It was composed by self-taught jazz pianist Roger Webb and features vocal performances by Barbara Moore – that’s right, the powerhouse library music duo! It makes Moonshade the perfect precursor and accompaniment to Barbara Moore’s eternal classic, Vocal Shades And Tones. It will come as no surprise that original copies, if you can ever find them, will set you back north of 200 notes.

Moonshade is a phenomenal showcase of Brit maestro Webb’s own roots in jazz. Those roots are served up here with a plethora of fast-stepping rhythms that truly give flight to the vocals of Barbara Moore, as they soar in wonderful ways. Moore sings wordlessly throughout, allowing her voice to act like another instrument in concert with the horns and keyboards elevating the fine arrangements. This is a deeply beautiful record.

The album opens with the ornate Baroque pop splendor of the sun-dappled melancholia of “Sunshine.” Strings, piano, and wordless female vocals combine to create this brief beauty of unimaginable grace. The cool “Gentle Eyes” features haunting and beautiful vocals, smooth jazz piano, horns, and a general easy vibe without being easy listening, if you know what we mean. You do. Just listen. The pounding “Heavy Lace” is one for the beat-heads, funky open drums (!) with muted organ, bassy piano chords, and ace horns. Sampled by Quakers for their great debut album on Stones Throw. The nostalgic “Yesterday” is wistful and beautifully melodic instrumental soul music with gorgeous acoustic guitar and flutes. It’s followed by the light, lilting “Petal Soft,” which features more Baroque styles, overflowing with flutes and harps. The bright, bouncing “Coaster” is an easy-going piano-led, guitar-driven swinger, whilst “Grey Sigh” is another classic – a real highlight, with more fantastic propulsive drums and percussion and plaintive wordless vocals courtesy of Barbara. Speaking of which, the soft, sweet Rhodes jazz of the lilting “Sweet Thing” is another staggering showcase of the brilliance of Barbara. Just astounding.

Head straight past the honky-tonk-by-numbers piano jaunt “Cough Drop” and luxuriate in the soft, delicate beauty of the album’s melodic, cyclical title track, “Moon Shade.” Fragile flutes and acoustic guitar float across judicious bass notes before giving way to slightly ominous piano and, again, those beguiling wordless vocals. And then round again to the flute refrain of the intro, this time with the vocals to see us out. Majestic drama jazz at its finest. The cello-and-flute adorned “Sapphire” is a fluid orchestral beauty, whilst “Interweave” rides with more urgency in its string and bass stabs. When the warm keys enter, it’s a bonafide mellifluous wonder. The softer “Musette” begins in beautifully gentle fashion before pivoting for a driving yet elegant piano middle section. It reverts back to the mellow intro for its outro. Understood? The melodic organ and prominent rhythm section running through “Reminiscence” make for a delightfully understated folk-funk instrumental, whilst the cool, rolling piano feels of “7.30 For 8.00” seem to perfectly suit the phrase “dinner jazz.” It’s no bad thing, c’mon. This classy, memorable set is rounded out by the half-minute mince of the Barbara-blessed “Sparky.” It’s just over too soon!

The audio for Moonshade has been brilliantly remastered by Be With regular Simon Francis, ensuring this release sounds better than ever. Cicely Balston’s expert skills have made sure nothing is lost in the cut whilst the records have been pressed to the highest possible standard at Record Industry in Holland. The original, iconic sleeve has been restored here at Be With HQ as the finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue.

01. Sunshine
02. Gentle Eyes
03. Heavy Lace
04. Yesterday
05. Petal Soft
06. Coaster
07. Grey Sigh
08. Sweet Thing
09. Cough Drop
10. Moon Shade
11. Sapphire
12. Interweave
13. Musette
14. Reminiscence
15. 7.30 For 8.00
16. Sparky

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