- Pianist, Composer, Educator -
Missoula’s piano king David Morgenroth has released a new album, which follows his last effort, Alone with Duke. Recorded in L.A. after he worked on another project there, Verdant features a few of his originals and some old favorites.
Morgenroth enjoyed the relaxed energy of SoCal’s pros so much he decided to record with major jazz players Bob Sheppard, soprano and tenor saxophones, Chris Colangelo, bass, and Joe La Barbera, drums.
In true Morgenroth fashion, the work is loose and tight at the same time, due to the top-drawer musicianship and synergy among the players.
“Barbara” starts us off. Morgenroth wrote it for his wife; it features a lush and snappy melody with soprano sax gliding effortlessly overtop Morgenroth’s subtle accompaniment. He follows with fleet-fingered magic of his own, while bass and drums percolate underneath.
His syncopated and swift “Counterplot” comes next, tenor sax warbling at the get-go. Before long, Morgenroth takes his break, fingers flitting down the keys like a hummingbird hovering.
The pianist’s Brazilian-flavored “¡Macanudo!” (“cool” in Chilean) storms in with a terrific unison lead by piano and sax. Bruno Martino’s “Estate” is sweet and hushed, the drums hypnotizing; the bass gets to wiggle and snap mid-stream, too. Wonderful!
The title tune wraps up the album. It’s layered, rich, and mesmerizing, sax burbling and honking like a fluttering bird as Morgenroth’s chords build, taking flight.
All the pieces are relatively lengthy, allowing the instrumentalists to extend themselves. In every number they time it perfectly to come together and intertwine riffs using some sort of jazz ESP. That’s teamwork, folks. The album is opulent and emotive.
Is anyone surprised?
- Mariss McTucker, State of the Arts published by The Montana Arts Council
I always look forward to playing with David Morgenroth when he is on the venue with me because he’s such an expert musician. His latest CD is one of the most listenable and interesting CDs I’ve come across in the last several years. David’s technique and sense of rhythm are impeccable. It’s a real joy to hear!
- Buddy DeFranco, 2006 NEA Jazz Master, November, 2009
David Morgenroth shows his imaginative arranging sense and some first-rate piano playing on this loving tribute to The Duke.
- Fred Hersch, August, 2009
Morgenroth successfully draws out the sonorous beauty of Ellington’s music in style.
- Review by Masayuki Okazaki of Swing Journal, December, 2009
Pianist David Morgenroth’s outstanding solo release Alone With Duke celebrates the spirit of the master with 13 interpretations of some the most beloved Ellington compositions. Morgenroth plays with an overall laid-back, relaxing style that always stays fresh and surprising. He sets the proper mood with a playful, album-opening rendition of “Just Squeeze Me”. He recreates the same joyful feeling on midtempo readings of classics like “Cotton Tail”, “I’m Just a Lucky So-and-So” and “C Jam Blues”. Morgenroth also honors Duke with a series of ballads, exhibiting an especially beautiful feeling on “Come Sunday”, “Melancholia” and the album-closing “Single Petal of a Rose”.
- Review by Graham Flanagan of New York City Jazz Record
On Radiance, Morgenroth is a straight-ahead pianist in the Evans-Corea line, but with classical training that gives several of his own compositions on this debut disc ("Blind Justice" in particular) an emotional depth . . . without breaking the swing, he creates interesting melodic eddies and cross-currents with intelligent and deftly played choices.
- Robert Spencer, Cadence, May, 1999
I'd like to think that call to attention comes from invention and originality of sound, both of which pianist David Morgenroth possesses in abundance. The result is a steadfast sound awaiting discovery by a larger audience.
On his first album, Radiance, which was released in 1998 although recorded in 1995, Morgenroth provides evidence of a style shaped by intelligence, clarity of conception and even an elegance that shimmers through his exciting attacks upon his own themes.
Like his former teacher, Fred Hersch, Morgenroth concerns himself with flow, stretching his phrasing over several measures without regard to bar lines as he invariably sets up lultimately singable improvisations. Moreover, he plays with a brightness derived from work usually in the second or third treble octave, as he often constructs solos through chord shifts, resulting in kaleidoscopic reharmonizations, in addition to single-noted lines appropriate to the more hard-driving forays.
- Bill Donaldson, Jazz News, March, 1999
... The arrangements by David Morgenroth, the pianist and musical director for this album, are also superb. At the hands of Atwood and Morgenroth, even familiar standards are transformed into something entirely different, fresh, and exciting.
- Yozo Iwanami, Swing Journal on Eden Atwood's album "Turn Me Loose" 2009
... Pianist David Morgenroth, the concert's guest soloist, brought down the house - er, the tent - with his performance of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". Listeners leaped their feet with an uproarious standing ovation. "I've never heard that piece performed in a more genuine style. It was just incredible," said Henry*
(*Joseph Henry. Missoula Symphony Orchestra's conductor & music director)
- Jamie Kelly, Missoulian, August, 2005