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Dado Moroni Trio: Dado Moroni Live in Beverly Hills

Larry Taylor By

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Italian pianist/composer Dado Moroni is internationally respected for his driving piano style and improvisational skills. Now, in his Resonance debut, he comes up with complex trio arrangements, always swinging and intellectually stimulating.

Moroni was born in 1962 and raised in Genoa, Italy, taking to music early, playing the family piano at three. Later, he studied formally and started playing gigs with local Italian musicians Becoming discouraged, he decided to study law. At that time, however, he played with Dizzy Gillespie, who was on tour, and the legendary trumpeter encouraged him, saying, "Man, there are too many lawyers out there. You should play piano!" That was the turning point for the young man. Today his music takes him around the world.

During his 35-year career, Moroni has played with many greats. In this session, he acknowledges three of his influences—Ron Carter, Oscar Peterson and Ahmad Jamal—with inestimable help by bassist Mario Panascia and drummer Peter Erskine.

The selections are a balance of Moroni originals and an eclectic range of standards and jazz tunes, as the pianist takes numbers from classic jazz recordings and ingeniously pays tribute to them, while putting his own stamp on them.

The opener, Moroni's "Ghanian Village," grabs immediate attention with the leader's heavily rhythmic intro, pushed by Erskine—swinging post bop at its best—followed by a fascinating arrangement of John Lewis' classic "Django," his 1956 recording with the iconic Modern Jazz Quartet. As with the MJQ version, Moroni's opening is majestically stark; then, after a few bars, the pianist branches off into a steady, lowdown groove, with a playful rhumba beat and empathic trio interplay.

"Where is Love," from the 1960 musical, Oliver!, shows off Panascia, while the song is given a romantic bossa nova beat. "I Hear A Rhapsody" displays Moroni's technical prowess; as with the great Peterson, he is all over the keyboard in his straight-ahead, swinging version of this standard. Ron Carter is given a nod on the veteran bassist's "Einbahnstrasse," another fast-paced trio rendition, while Moroni's "Jamal" is the track to remember. With a nod toward Jamal's wildly successful 1957 trio tune, "Poinciana," Moroni vamps over the repetitive, mesmerizing, bolero-like rhythm at both the beginning and end of the 12-minute track. Midway, he breaks out on his dynamic own, with staunch bass backing.

The CD package includes an extremely well-filmed bonus DVD. Live, the artists—dressed in black—stand out in the artful lighting scheme, as does the bronze burnish of the bass and metallic luster of the drums.

Track Listing: Ghanian Village; Django; Where is Love; I Hear a Rhapsody; Einbahnstrasse; Vitti Na Crozza; Nose Off; Jamal.

Personnel: Dado Moroni: piano; Marco Panascia: bass; Peter Erskine: drums.

Title: Dado Moroni Live in Beverly Hills | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Resonance Records

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