Kendrick Scott's World Culture Music is set to release Lotus, the much-anticipated fifth album (& third self-produced project) from guitarist/composer Mike Moreno. Moreno is a musician who has established himself on the global jazz scene in a profound way, garnering high praise from critics, fans, colleagues, and from none other than Pat Metheny and Mike Stern. As a leader, Lotus brings Moreno's creative output to five recordings, and one could argue that they should be considered must-have recordings for any serious collection.
Lotus, featuring musicians that Moreno has a long and happy history with, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Eric Harland, is a documentation of Moreno's most honest music to date. "This is Aaron's fourth record with me," Moreno explains, "and it sort of continues what we started on Aaron's Blue Note Records debut Invisible Cinema, which featured both myself and Eric Harland. That was a defining record for both Aaron and I, and everywhere I go, that's the most talked-about record of my career to date. So in a way, this is part two of Invisible Cinema. It certainly has the same appeal, a great band with a set of melodic songs and the always strong rhythmic concept from Eric Harland." "Eric, from Houston, like myself, also attended the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, and we began playing on his visits back to Houston after he moved to NYC. He was the first great drummer I played with. I still remember feeling that force coming from the drums for the first time. It was incredible. Lotus marks the first time Eric has recorded with me on one of my own projects. It was long overdue." "Doug Weiss has been a part of my band almost from the beginning, starting when he was one of my teachers at the New School. I loved his playing and asked him to do some gigs with me when I started to work with my own band. He ended up playing on my first two records, and is just one of most solid bassists out there, always playing beautiful supportive notes and exactly what is needed."
Lotus is comprised of all original Mike Moreno compositions. Some were composed during an artist residence that Moreno took part in at the Rockefeller Estate, Kykuit Gardens, in Pocantico Hills, NY ("The Hills Of Kykuit" and "The Empress"). The guitarist/composer explained, "The more I compose the simpler my music gets and the more it sounds like me, rather than a mix of my influences." "Can We Stay Forever?" is a ballad that didn't make the cut for Moreno's previous release, Another Way, but fit very nicely in the set for this record. The rest of the recording was written in the years since Another Way was released in 2012. The most recent composition is "Epilogue-The Rise", which was finished just a week before the record date, and composed by Moreno specifically for this band.
Moreno wants Lotus to be a recording that people from all walks of life can listen to and enjoy over and over again. "This is meant to be a record you can listen to like any other genre of music, whether your a jazz fan or musician, a lawyer, whatever. It is an album of which I'm extremely proud, and I hope that when the listener walks away from their computer, stereo, car, iPod, etc., that these melodies stick with them, even after the first listen."
Originally from Houston, Texas, Mike Moreno began studying music formally at the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, a school renowned for its musical alumni, which includes such luminaries as Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Brian Michael Cox, Eric Harland, Chris Dave, Kendrick Scott, and Beyoncé. After graduating he moved to NYC with a scholarship to attend the New School University. While still in school he began getting calls to perform and tour with some of the most venerable names in the jazz world, as well as rising stars firmly en route to establishing their careers.
Recognized as one of the leading voices in the jazz guitar world, Moreno has toured and recorded extensively as a leader, playing original music to high critical acclaim. As Nate Chinen describes in his column in JazzTimes Magazine ("The Gig"), "There are many other guitarists out there pushing towards a modern ideal, but none with the precise coordinates that Mike Moreno has charted."
Over the years, Moreno has performed and/or recorded with numerous major artists, both inside and outside of the jazz genre, including Claudia Acuña, Bilal, Terence Blanchard, Ralph Bowen, Leonardo Cioglia, John Ellis, Kenny Garret, Robert Glasper, Jimmy Greene, Stefon Harris, Frank Locrasto, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra, Jason Moran, Me'Shell N'Degeocello, Greg Osby 4, Gretchen Parlato, Aaron Parks, Nicholas Payton Quartet, Jeremy Pelt, The Joshua Redman Elastic Band, Bob Reynolds, Kendrick Scott, Marcus Strickland, Yosvany Terry, Myron Walden, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Lizz Wright Band, Sam Yahel, and others.
Additionally, Moreno has appeared on three Grammy-nominated recordings. In 2010 both Q-Tip's "The Renaissance" and Geoffrey Keezzer's "Aurea" were nominated for Best Album in their categories, as well in 2008, Eldar's "Re-Imagination" received the same nomination in the Jazz Category.
In 2007, Moreno released his debut CD on the World Culture Music label, Between The Lines, which Chinen featured in The New York Times as one of his top 10 jazz albums of 2007. He recorded his second and third albums, Third Wish (2008) and First In Mind (2011), for the European jazz label, Criss-Cross Records. His most recent album, Another Way, was recently released by World Culture Music, and was named one of the 25 "Best of 2012" Jazz Releases on iTunes.