Moraz Alban Project
There is certainly an upbeat spirit invested in the Moraz Alban Project aka MAP album from Patrick Moraz and drummer Greg Alban. This record grew from the friendship the former Moody Blues and Yes keyboardist and drummer Alban have had for 30 years. The duo present a wide range of instrumentals, ranging from rock and jazz and to world fusion.
The album opens with “Jungle Aliens,” boasting a consistent heavy percussion bed from Greg Alban and Moraz’s leading keys over and beyond a spry synth melody track. Alban’s drumming, a grooving bass line and Moraz’s keys creates a big TV soundtrack-like theme on “Strictly Organic” with Lenny Castro’s congas layering between the drums and synth. We get the first real use of piano and some unique cymbal work on the ballsy fusion of “Jazz In The Night.” This one grows into a synth workout midway with Moraz and Alban playing off one another.
The real expressive playing of these expert musicians (MAP also features former Oingo Boingo bassist John Avila, Matt Malley of Counting Crows on Indian slide guitar, Swiss virtuoso bassist Patrick Perrier and multi-instrumentalist Dave VanSuch) occurs on the slower stuff. There’s the simple drumming and sublime fretless bass moments behind the piano chording and sweet melody of “The Real Feel.” There’s also the cool sweeping cymbals and single lilting high synth notes creating an atmosphere on “Alien Species.” If you haven’t noticed, there’s lots of aliens on this album: “Alien Species,” Alien Intelligence” and “Jungle Aliens.”
“Mumbia Mantra” is a truly high energy world fusion piece that wraps things up nicely. Alban lays back on his intermittent high-tuned snare and cymbal splashes amidst some expert fretless playing and Moraz providing the main simply synth melody. On the whole, MAP offers a combination of stellar players presenting a wide mix of styles, with Patrick Moraz and Greg Alban capably leading the way.
~ Ralph Greco