Out of the Night
Jazz Focus Records
This warmly wrought session is a case study in conversational modern jazz. Like the classic neo-bop groups of the 1950s-'60s helmed by Art Blakey, pianist Moroni's quartet struts with a swinging mainstream gait. And like Ahmad Jamal, Moroni lets the music breathe. In the ambling mid-tempo stroll through Joe Henderson's "Out of the Night," each note and space speaks loud and clear. Ably abetted by bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Bill Goodwin, the Italian-bred Moroni burns with an intensity recalling the heated minimalism of Horace Silver.
Even in boppish romps like "Seven Steps to Heaven," Moroni plays with a supple touch that both floats and stings. For much of the date, Moroni's trio is joined by trumpeter/fluegelhornist Joe Magnarelli. A versatile modernist, the New York-based brassman is, in lines like "Bella Carolina", a convincing bop-based stylist; at slower tempos, like that for the poignant "Embraceable You," Magnarelli's gauzy balladry stirs memories of Chet Baker. In the Gershwin standard, Moroni's wistful right-hand runs and velvet-hammered chording recall the Riverside recordings of Bill Evans. A gem of a different sort is the pianist's "Basie-Cally," an insouciant tip-of-the-hat to the intimate small group sessions Basie waxed for Pablo. In all, a superb date and a welcome opportunity for American jazz fans to appreciate a wonderfully accomplished pianist.