Mar 3, 2011
“To me, Jazz is a state of mind. It’s about love, and pulse and heart. And a commitment to groove.” – Dado Moroni.
Although not nearly as well known as he should be in the US, Italian pianist and composer Dado Moroni is something of a star in Europe. His latest release, Live in Beverly Hills (available as a CD and DVD), should help make him a must-hear on these shores as well.
Although he has been a sideman for artists like Chet Baker, Joe Henderson, Ray Brown, Ron Carter and Dizzy Gillespie, his work as a leader has gone under my radar. This latest set, a live recording with a trio that includes Peter Erskine (Weather Report) on drums and Marco Panascia (Eldar) on bass, mixes originals and standards with grace.
Dado cites McCoy Tyner as one of his musical role models, but his lyricism and grace seem more in common with Keith Jarrett, as he balances a melodic touch with a flair for romance (“Vitti Na Crozza”, “Where Is Love”) and drama (“Ghana Village”). Whether he is performing his own compositions – which are uniformly memorable – or covers like “I Hear a Rhapsody”, he leads the trio with a great sense of verve.
Erskine is a wonderful foil for the pianist, as he is more than comfortable setting a groove, or working in and around the melody. I think of him as more of a fusion drummer, and it’s easy to forget that he can excel in small, quieter groups as well, as he did with Gary Burton and Diana Krall in the past.
Bassist Panascia shines on the Moroni original “Einbahnstrasse”, as he trades licks with Erskine and Moroni in a circular groove. His solo on “Noses Off” is a model of restraint, while still allowing him to flex his improvisational muscles.