In the ‘90s, Dan Moretti often provided what could be described as "smooth jazz for people who don't like smooth jazz"--in other words, pop-jazz that had more meat on its bones than most of the elevator muzak that NAC stations played during that decade. The tenor and soprano saxman was never afraid to be commercial, but his pop-jazz usually had more in common with Grover Washington, Jr., David Sanborn and early Ronnie Laws--the more tasteful side of crossover jazz--than with Najee, Kenny G, George Howard or Dave Koz. Of course, many of the people who play pop-jazz are quite capable of playing straightahead jazz; they're choosing commercial music because it sells, although some do it with more integrity than others. And Moretti shows listeners his more straightahead side on Stories, which is essentially a post-bop outing. The improviser isn't turning into a jazz purist; this CD employs an electric keyboardist, Tim Ray, along with acoustic bassist Marty Ballou, electric guitarist Bruce Bartlett and drummer Marty Richards. Nonetheless, Stories is more straightahead than not, and this time, Moretti is coming from a Wayne Shorter/Joe Henderson/John Coltrane aesthetic rather than a Washington/Sanborn/Laws/Crusaders aesthetic. Once you get past the use of electric keyboards, Stories is a definite departure from Moretti's more commercial work--and overall, he fares well in this post-bop-oriented environment. Most of the material was written by Moretti himself; the exception is the Beatles' "And I Love Her," which receives a dusky, Coltrane-ish treatment and demonstrates that improvisers are missing the boat when they overlook the John Lennon/Paul McCartney songbook and consider Tin Pan Alley the last word on popular music. Stories isn't exceptional, but it's a decent, likable demonstration of what Moretti can do when he steps away from crossover pop-jazz.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson