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Mike Moreno: Standards From Film

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Mike Moreno: Standards From Film
At last. An enjoyable alternative to the ghastly albums of "jazzed up" hymns and Christmas carols which spew forth every holiday season. There is nothing overtly Christmassy about guitarist Mike Moreno's Standards From Film, but it is appropriate that the album, recorded in New York in December 2021, was released in the UK in early December 2022 and came out in the US a month or so earlier. It nails the seasonal nostalgia spike and then some.

Moreno, always a lyrical player and never more so than on this occasion, has chosen ten of his favourite evergreens, each of which was either commissioned for a movie soundtrack or included in one within a year or so of being published. They are Wayne King, Victor Young and Egbert Van Alstyne's "Beautiful Love," Herb Brown's "You Stepped Out Of A Dream," Harry Warren's "There Will Never Be Another You," Victor Young's "Stella By Starlight" and "My Foolish Heart," David Raksin's "Laura," Jule Styne's "I Fall In Love Too Easily," Bronislau Caper and Ned Washington's "On Green Dolphin Street," Kaper's "Invitation" and Henry Mancini's "Days Of Wine And Roses." Happily, Moreno does not reinvent, reimagine, recalibrate or otherwise re-screwup any of the tunes; "My Foolish Heart" is given a novel rhythmic foundation, but it works.

After the brief, unaccompanied guitar reading of "Beautiful Love" which opens the album, the remaining tracks have average playing times of just over seven minutes, plenty of time for bookending theme statements and solos that unfold without rush in between. Moreno is the chief soloist, but pianist Sullivan Fortner and bassist Matt Brewer each get turns in the spotlight; Brewer delivers a particular gem on "There Will Never Be Another You."

Moreno, the producer, has inserted brief dialogue soundbites from the source movies at the start or finish of most tracks. This could have been tacky but, if one lightens up and goes with the flow, it works. Check the clip of "Stella By Starlight" below for an example. Less successful is the microphone placement. The piano is close mic'd within an inch of its life and there are occasions, especially when Fortner uses the sustain pedal, that the bass register of the instrument threatens to overwhelm everything else that is going on. But the 4-star rating stands.

Track Listing

Beautiful Love; You Stepped Out Of A Dream; There Will Never Be Another You; Stella By Starliight; Laura; I Fall In Love Too Easily; On Green Dolphin Street; My Foolish Heart; Invitation; Days Of Wine And Roses.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Standards From Film | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Criss Cross


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