MAKING A SCENE
by Jim Hynes
Tres Libres is the unusual trio album that features ten musicians and ten different instruments. Marking his twentieth recording as a leader, versatile saxophonist Dan Moretti, as you might guess, uses an array of combinations across diverse styles ranging from free-Latin-jazz, funk, ambient, modal, and swing. Moretti employs all three saxophones – alto, soprano, and tenor and on the closing “The Missing Breath” uses three tenors in layers on a tune where he is the lone musician. The other six tracks feature drums, pandeiro (Brazilian percussion), congas, fretted and fretless electric bass, Cuban baby-bass, electric guitar, and keyboards.
The funky “Jim Brown’s Cousin” leads off with Moretti on alto backed by a couple of guys that often paly with bluesman Duke Robillard, Marty Ballou on the bass and Marty Richards on the drum-heavy groove. “Mumbo Jumbo,” a reggae-like tune, curiously has an unknown drummer with Ray Gennari on bass as Moretti delivers an array of explorative harmonics on tenor. “Pandeiro-Funk” obviously features the instrument of the same name played by Marcus Santos. The piece is based on #11 chords with a repeating sense of non-resolution created by Moretti’s soaring and calming soprano as well as Bruce Barlett’s spacious guitar parts, an ambient foray markedly different than the two previous tracks.
Morreti plays keyboards as well as tenor on another ethereal piece, “The Inner Side,” that features Michael Farquharson on the fretless bass in unison with the leader’s tenor in a rather memorable melody. The soundscape will evoke a TV drama series, even “Twilight Zone” came to mind. “Escrito Jazz Libre” (written-free-jazz) has the percolating congas of Cuban Jorge Najarro and fellow Cuban baby bass player Hernando Isaza Cano who create a pulsating rhythm for Moretti’s alto excursions.
Moretti doubles on keys (bass keyboard) and tenor again alongside Marty Richards on drums for a jazz version of a traditional Indian Bhajan that invokes free jazz on the melody but distinct reverence in Moretti’s playing. Finally, we have the seventh Moretti composition, “The Missing Breath,” where the leader uses three tenors to create a church-like chorale sound, inspired by the Norwegian ECM stalwart saxophonist Jan Garbarek.
This is the kind of highly creative project we might expect from a veteran player with a number of albums already issued in many configurations. Moretti is the kind of explorative player, who is restless and searching. He’s found some unique settings here and sounds truly inspired as a result.