Dan Moretti has been fascinating the music world since the late 1980s with his funk-fusion debut release Sometime Inside. From there he went into fascinating musical collaborations with guitarists like Mike stern and Steve Khan and bassist mark Egan. From there, he went into Latin Jazz with Oscar Stagnaro on bass and Mark Walker on drums alongside the titan Dave Liebman on the album Latin Genesis. He explored the combination of jazz and Italian roots before moving into critically acclaimed jazz albums like Tres Muse and Hammond Boys.
Having 20 albums to his credit, now more ready releases Tres Libre which may be his most revealing album to date. It is set in the trio format with Moretti shuffling the personnel and instruments in a dizzying exploration of that format. In all, 10 artists are mixed and matched to bring Moretti’s vision to pass and Dan himself often does double-duty on the saxes and keyboards. On the last track, The Missing Breath, it is all Dan on all the saxes.
The styles and flavors or also mixed from Latin jazz to funk to swing and more. And you can hear Dan’s influences, as well, in songs like The Inner Side and The Missing Breath with their unmistakable acknowledgement of the great Jan Garbarek.
Jim Brown’s Cousin carries a Blues-Funk style that is a great hook for the album. Then Mumbo Jumbo turns on the infectious fun of Reggae with Dan on a cool tenor saxophone, Ray Gennari on bass, and an unknown drummer. God bless the anonymous cat because he’s got game.
Escrito Jazz Libre (Written Free Jazz) is a smoking Latin Jazz piece with Jorge Najarro on congas and Hernando Isaza Cano on baby bass. With the rhythm section anchoring the percussiveness of the piece, Moretti goes after a freewheeling alto saxophone improvisation that makes its distinctive mark on the album.
When You Leave This World has Marty Richards playing the propulsive drums and Moretti on tenor sax and keyboards. That tenor sax is touching and warm without being mournful. Dan and Marty are beautifully connected and the added keyboards serve to intensify the adhesion. Listening again to this piece after I had to say farewell to a dear old friend was especially moving for me. I must have listened to the track five or six consecutive times.
It was The Missing Breath that stole the show. Moretti plays three tenor saxophones in a layered chorus of a uniquely simple but harmonic melody that is moving and powerful. If you have not heard Dan Moretti before or were unsure of your opinion of his artistry, this piece will convert the skeptic and confirm the fan. It is almost religious in its method and its power.
Tres Libre is a work of singular vision for the trio and indeed for the Jazz art form. With his artistry and message, his humor and his passion, Dan Moretti has given us one of the best albums of the year.
~Travis Rogers, Jr. is The Jazz Owl
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