Daniele Morelli ‘Misión Azul’ (Private Press) 3/5

daniele-morelliItalian guitarist Daniele Morelli provides a breath of fresh air on “Misión Azul”; a gentle mix of Western European and South American jazz flavours. Composed and arranged by Morelli, the guitarist recorded this album along with a band of musicians from Mexico, El Salvador, Panama and Chile. The combination of these cultures gives rise to a lovely sounding album, where subtlety and grace win the day. Born in Tuscany, Morelli is a well-travelled musician who clearly brings out some fine moments, musically speaking, from the places he has visited. Initially Morelli focussed on the blues, his jazz chops following later. He participated in the Atmaniam orchestra, playing world music, especially that of Africa, India and Turkey, before later joining several projects playing blues and gypsy music. Moving to France, he entered the Conservatory National de Lyon, studying jazz guitar. He currently lives between Amsterdam, Brussels and Mexico, performing with various jazz groups. There’s a cool, laid-back feel to his playing that suggests a willingness to take on board the many influences from his journeying and learning.
“Misión Azul” is inspired by, and dedicated to Mexico. The title track sums up the mood well, where a subtle and clean guitar is soon met with South American percussion, before the tune develops nicely with the melody provided by a light and airy tenor saxophone. Throughout the album the guitar and sax take turns to create melody with a lyrical puissance, often interchanging, yet happily never vying for attention. “Chiapas e Nuvole (1)” enjoys a joyous sense of hospitality; imagine taking a seat in a street cafe on a warm sunny day, with a cool drink and the subtle colours and textures of a jazz quartet drifting in on a gentle breeze… Morelli has a knack of letting the music gradually gain your attention in a sweet way, never abrasive of asking for attention, just…there. Technically and emotionally at home with the music he writes and performs, “Regreso Lacando” beggins with a short guitar intro, with the tune developing into the kind of sound one would imagine hearing as the distant sun goes down, disappearing behind the mountains. If I had to pick a favourite track from this album, it would be “Popo c atepetl”. There’s such a cool vibe to this tune, partly created by the groove of the bass and drums, with the percussion swimming nicely in and out of the river of musicality. But it is the sax, and especially Morelli’s wonderful guitar that sing out on this tune. Think late night jazz club in a Mexican setting, where most of the crowd have dispersed, and the indigenous people sit around drinking and chatting, enjoying the luscious sounds drifting in the air.

There are a few changes of pace along the way, with some welcome piano on the odd tune mixing things up a bit, but overall it’s a fairly easy listening album, not that there’s anything wrong in that at all. The only challenge here is finding a sunny spot to sit and listen, undisturbed, where I can enjoy the music whilst watching the world go by.

Mike Gates