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Patrick Moraz - Moraz Alban Project: MAP CD (album) cover

MORAZ ALBAN PROJECT: MAP

Patrick Moraz

 

Crossover Prog

3.81 | 7 ratings

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progpositivity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Three songs on this CD reference Aliens in their title! If this is what "Alien fusion" sounds like, please allow me to be the first to request M-A-P ("More Aliens Please")!!

Composer and keyboard virtuoso Patrick Moraz stumbled across drummer Greg Alban during the 80's at a random gig in California. He was so impressed that he hired him to perform on a few tracks on his "Time Code" album. Since then, the two of them have stayed in touch and gotten together to jam whenever Moraz was on the west coast.

As an accomplished session musician, Alban had no shortage of professional opportunities to perform, but he developed a yearning to record something that represented his own style and taste. Naturally, he immediately sought to recruit the best keyboardist and composer he knew to participate in the project!

Moraz ended up composing the majority of the music for this CD. Arrangement, recording and performance decisions were all collaborative.

The opening tune "Jungle ALIENS" sets a medium heavy groove, effectively sending us the signal that this will be essentially and foremost a rock fusion project.

Next up, "Strictly Organic" ups the energy ante a notch, featuring Lenny Castro on congas.

When Moraz first played "Canyon Afternoon" for Alban, he immediately envisioned the spirited saxophone of college friend Dave Van Such. A few phone calls later, he was in the studio turning this into one of the highlights of the project. His sax sings and soars, bringing an inspired and very human element to the forefront.

"Jazz in the Night" is another highlight yet for an entirely different reason. Jumpy, and imbued with an energy that sometimes borders on what might be called "frenetic", it is almost impossible to sit still listening to this song! The rhythms are complex yet these players are so well versed in the material and so professional, everything works together with a perfection that sounds almost effortless. (Then again, perhaps they just recorded multiple takes until they got it right! Either way, "get it right" they most certainly did indeed! This is a great piece!)

Alban describes "The Drum Also Solo" as perhaps the most "fun" to play. From the sound of it, "fun" seems to provide an apt descripton of the entire album. Now is probably a good time to mention that there is no shortage of drum fills on any of the songs I've heard so far. That said, "The Drum Also Solo" certainly does offer plenty of fun drum fills and thrills especially toward the middle of the tune!

The Real Feel slows things down to provide a breather and a change of pace. Some of the fills toward the middle and the end are unexpectedly playful and delightful. Ex-Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila's interplay steps to the forefront on this piece. Alien Intelligence returns to what Alban appears to love most: powerful, driving, upbeat, infectiously optimistic jazz rock fusion! The spotlight shines even more brightly on Avila's bass guitar. It ends on a high note.

Mumbai Mantra reminds me a bit of Jan Hammer's 1980's solo work on Miami Vice soundtracks. Although it is energetic and bouncy, it tends to sit on one chord and groove for an extended period of time.

The closer "Alien Species" continues in the vein of meditative single chord explorations of tone and timbre. To this impatient listener, Alban's busy stickwork and cymbal washes are the one thing that rescued this song from the "next" button.

progpositivity | 4/5 |

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