Some of my favorite jazz trios are sax trios, proven by my continuing awe at classic LPs such as Sonny Rollins’ Way Out West. I feel as if they’ve been rare lately, and perhaps that’s why Tres Libre from Dan Moretti seems so special and so different at this point in time. Moretti’s sax isn’t shy or obsessed with ballads and how softly they need to be played, nor is it interested in breaking free from melodic reins and running full blast through the woods. Moretti plays the sax like it’s meant to be played–direct, bold and looking to get into serious trouble.
As the title suggests, Dan Moretti is focused on the very idea of a sax trio and how each member–we’re talking about a revolving cast playing the part of rhythm section–can be truly creative and improvise freely while connecting with the other two performers. While Moretti’s original compositions are borne from familiar jazz genres (free jazz, Latin jazz, funk, be-bop and even swing), it’s all about breaking free from all expectations and hunkering into a groove that can be manic, crazy, daring, but never chaotic like so much of the free/experimental jazz out there.
Dan Moretti and his sax are usually at the forefront. As I mentioned, he plays the sax like a sax, whether it’s be-bop sax or even a little bit of rock sax. That’s the boldness of his phrasing, the constant reminder that this is a saxophone and it’s doing things a saxophone does. The magic occurs when his sax crosses paths with his rhythm section, and all three performers decide to walk together for a while. You can listen to these tunes jump from being about the one to being about the trio while never once losing focus. This is music that has mastered its segues.
Once again, the icing on this particular cake is the sound quality, and that’s often an underlying reason why I’m so attracted to jazz trios in general. It’s so easy to capture the space and the air around three performers at fixed points on a stage, but on Tres Libre there’s an extra bite to the sound, just a little more shine on the edges of the notes. It sounds great. Dan Moretti has been around for decades and has played around the world, but this album is proof that he deserves a little more attention for truly coming up with a new and valid approach for a sax trio.
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