Mike Moreno, Standards From Film Review
by Jon Ward
Mike Moreno has a new album for 2022 called Standards From Film, the guitarist’s fourth Criss Cross album presents songs from movies; the album was recorded in December 2021, and it documents the leader’s extensive examinations into the background of ten iconic standards that, as he puts it, “are the summer jazz workshop tunes.” Meaning you have to learn these songs early in your jazz studies, in the beginning days of your journey into this music. Joining Moreno is Sullivan Fortner, piano; Matt Brewer, double bass; and Obed Calvaire, drums.
“Beautiful Love” opens the album and is present as a solo guitar selection. Moreno’s finger-styled arpeggios keep the feel and melody afloat as he maintains various layers of activity. The acoustic guitar is clear, but the string noise from the fret-hand is distracting at moments. However, the excess noise does not negate Moreno’s guitar skills, just a sonic preference that some may be okay with hearing.
“Stella by Starlight” is given a mellow, easy-going reading with Moreno’s guitar being surrounded by reverb. Brewer and Calvaire keep the song’s motion moving forward and add many colors to the ballad feel. Fortner’s piano accompanying and soloing are tasteful and melodic. Moreno’s methodology of building his solo is organic and meaningful as he shapes his lines with a defined shape.
Standards From Film is a musical journey through some of the great songs that Hollywood has contributed to the jazz repertoire. However, the movie soundbites at the beginning of multiple cuts and the overall mellow approach leave me wondering if I want to experience that upon repeated listening. Unfortunately, the answer is no; I understand what Moreno was going for, but in the end, I do not believe this will lend itself to a highly repeatable listening experience.
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