Monday, May 28, 2012

CD (Fan) Review – Mike Moreno

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of tunes on WBGO Jazz Radio by an up-and-coming jazz guitarist named Mike Moreno. Those two tracks were enough to hook me and compel me to go to Amazon and listen to samples from his four (to date) solo albums, which I promptly ordered and am now enjoying in between my reviews.

Moreno combines the steeped traditions of jazz guitar and the eclectic possibilities of the electric guitar, resulting in a fusion of old and new that matches the fire and invention of a young Pat Metheny, who has praised Moreno.

Moreno’s albums are not just exercises in jazz guitar. Although he writes most of the originals that are not standards, the other musicians supporting him get to shine just as much as the leader, resulting in the cohesion of a true band. But Moreno’s guitar is definitely the thread that holds everything together.

Although Moreno has released “only” four albums in the last five years, he by no means operates in a vacuum. A graduate of New School University’s music program in his current home base of New York City, Moreno has performed, toured, and recorded with both established jazz superstars and fellow up-and-coming jazz artists.

I find it a bit weird being a fan of someone younger than me. All of my favorite actors and musicians are several years or decades older than me, which makes sense because I became a fan of them when I was a child. However, Moreno is only six years younger than me, so I don’t feel so bad. I am proud to include him in my personal pantheon of favorite jazz/rock/fusion guitarists, including Andy Summers, Eric Johnson, Hiram Bullock, Pat Metheny, and Ronny Jordan.

I am even more excited that the future of jazz guitar is literally in good hands.

--Raj Manoharan

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