Friday, October 27, 2017

Mike Moreno - Three For Three (Criss Cross, 2017)

Mike Moreno is an accomplished modern mainstream jazz guitarist originally from Houston. Joined on this album by Doug Weiss on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums, they develop a very interesting program of music that runs the gamut from Wayne Shorter to Radiohead with many stops in-between. "The Big Push" is the opening track and it opens with some nimble guitar chords before the bass and drums join in, making for a pleasant medium up-tempo performance. Moreno strikes out on a solo with an enjoyable and flowing tone from his instrument which is met by faster paced swinging bass and drums. The group works together nicely, building an exciting improvised section that has real legs. There is an interlude for a well articulated bass solo, framed by light percussion and spare guitar chords. The drummer offers up a deeply rhythmic solo of his own, trading phrases with Moreno's guitar to excellent effect, then everyone falls back in line to end a fine performance. There is a slightly restrained feel on "For Those Who Do" with liquid toned guitar playing off against restrained bass and drums. The group takes a lyrical approach to this performance, elaborating upon themes and confidently improvising on the source material, with clean sounding lines of guitar reaching out to envelop the music's progress, and keeping a firm hand on the throttle. "Clube da Esquina No. 1" has a very pleasant feel to it with acoustic guitar along with subtle and atmospheric bass. The song unfolds gradually as a lilting ballad that is steeped in romance and mystery. The music moves fluidly in and out of different sections with electric and acoustic guitars in space that works in an immediate and engaging manner. The standard "April in Paris" gets a fine workout, with the group hinting at the familiar melody in an oblique fashion, before stretching out in a lengthy improvised section. The trio works together very well, advancing the music by gradually increasing the volume and pace, and developing a dynamic narrative which the musicians can work off of. There is a taut bass solo, stretching out nicely with gentle guitar and percussion hanging back. The drummer takes subtle and shaded mini-solos against the bass and guitar, trading ideas as they go before Moreno resumes the lead and guides the performance to a stately conclusion. "Perhaps" is a brisk and bright tune, setting the pace for the ensuing improvisation, where the music they play was is melodic and swinging, crisply articulated and performed with panache. The musicians throttle down to a quieter section encompassing a thick well recorded bass solo which was quite impressive, and another feature for the drummer developing crisp solo with a wealth of rhythmic ideas. This album worked very well, and will hopefully garner some much deserved attention. The music is excellently played and the songs and their accompanying improvisations are thoughtful and interesting. 3 For 3 - amazon.com

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