Dan Moretti

Passing Place

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One phrase that is often heard in connection with artists like Jack McDuff, Richard "Groove" Holmes, Gene Ammons, and the seminal Jimmy Smith is "soul-jazz/hard bop." Those artists had the down-home funkiness of the blues and could easily appeal to R&B lovers, but they were also relevant to hard bop and had no problem playing a Charlie Parker standard if called upon to do so. In some cases, however, a phrase that is more appropriate than "soul-jazz/hard bop" is "soul jazz/post-bop" -- and it's a phrase that is definitely applicable on Passing Place. This is the type of album that has one foot in soul-jazz and organ combos and the other in the post-bop aesthetic of John Coltrane (pre-1965, before he got into atonal free jazz), Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter; in fact, one of the high points of Passing Place is an enjoyable performance of Shorter's "Virgo." But most of the album is dedicated to Dan Moretti's own compositions, and much of the time, the saxman (who is heard on both tenor and soprano) achieves a healthy balance of groove and intellect. Moretti goes for soulfulness, but he doesn't forget about the things that Henderson and Shorter's work also offers from an intellectual standpoint. Moretti is, to his credit, a flexible player; those familiar with Moretti's background can tell you that his recorded history has ranged from the jazz-funk workouts of the Psychic Horns to the pop-flavored crossover jazz of 1998's That's Right (an album that could be described as "smooth jazz with a brain" -- in other words, comparable to Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn, and late-'70s Ronnie Laws rather than Kenny G or Dave Koz). And a desire to combine soul-jazz and post-bop serves Moretti equally well on the worthwhile Passing Place.

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