MORAINE

Jazz Related Rock • United States
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Moraine is an omnivorous Seattle-based instrumental quintet led by guitarist Dennis Rea and featuring violinist Alicia DeJoie, woodwind player James DeJoie, bassist Kevin Millard, and drummer Stephen Cavit. With its several writers and full complement of ace instrumentalists arrayed in striking combination, Moraine has quickly built a reputation as one of the most electrifying and original instrumental rock bands anywhere - winning over listeners across the globe with its unique amalgam of art rock, forward-thinking jazz, world music, and more. Moraine has been enthusiastically received by audiences ranging from jazz aficionados to metalheads to progressive rock enthusiasts and has appeared alongside such renowned artists as Three Friends (Gentle Giant), Steve Hackett, Eddie Jobson, and Richard Pinhas. The band's 2009 release on NYC-based MoonJune Records, manifest deNsity, garnered more than 100 glowing reviews worldwide, and its set at NEARfest 2010, the world's preeminent showcase for progressive rock, was considered by many read more...
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MORAINE Manifest Density album cover 4.30 | 6 ratings
Manifest Density
Jazz Related Rock 2009
MORAINE Groundswell album cover 3.52 | 3 ratings
Groundswell
Jazz Related Rock 2014

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MORAINE Metamorphic Rock album cover 3.87 | 4 ratings
Metamorphic Rock
Jazz Related Rock 2011

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MORAINE Reviews

MORAINE Groundswell

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Rock
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js
“Groundswell” is the third album for instrumental art rockers Moraine, and it finds them back on a good track again. Moraine’s first album revealed a strong unit aided by two string players which gave them a unique ‘string quartet plus rock band’ type sound. Their second album traded off one of the string players for a saxophone that was run through sound processing that made it sound like a cheap synthesizer. James DeJoi returns on woodwinds for this third album, but thankfully the annoying effects are gone and he sounds like he is playing saxophone and flute, not a portable Casio. Overall, the remaining violin and newcomer saxophone blend is much better now, in fact the whole band has achieved a very congruous orchestral type sound. They definitely make use of all the instrumental colors at their disposal.

Moraine plays instrumental art rock, but not of the overly busy pseudo-complicated variety that can be both annoying and cliché, there is at times a simple directness to Moraine’s music that can recall classic instrumental rock groups such as The Shadows, or some of the more experimental psychedelic surf bands. As for their progressive rock influences, Phil Manzenera’s Quiet Sun is a good reference, as well as Robert Fripp and King Crimson from the late 60s to the early 80s. Sounds from Asia and the Middle East also find their way into the Moraine mix. The compositions and performances on here are quite good, but the recording can be a little murky, sometimes the rhythm section lacks strength. Still, if you are interested in modern instrumental art rock, “Groundswell” is one of the better albums in this genre for 2014.

MORAINE Metamorphic Rock

Live album · 2011 · Jazz Related Rock
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kev rowland
One year after their stunning debut Moraine found themselves at NEARFest, by which time the line-up had changed. Stephen Cavitt was now sat in the drum seat, but the most interesting change was the departure of cellist Ruth Davidson and the introduction of James DeJoie (baritone saxophone, flute and percussion). This has changed the dynamic of the band for the better, as they have even more depth and width than previous. The album itself contains interpretations from Dennis’s solo album ‘Views From Chicheng Precipice’, which although not released until 2010 had been recorded prior to Moraine’s debut and featured all of those who had been involved with ‘Manifest Density’ as well as James, plus of course songs from the debut plus some that have yet to be made available elsewhere.

This is fusion combined with avant-garde combined with prog combined with whatever on earth they feel like playing at the time. Although there is more improvisation with this album than with the debut, as would be expected in front of a live audience, there is still the complex control that made the debut so impressive. The use of baritone sax definitely gives the band a bottom end that previously was unavailable, and the loss of the cello is not noticed. There are times in some of the longer numbers when the guys suddenly take off and it is if they are as one, a multi-armed multi-headed being that is in total control although it may seem that anarchy is going to prevail. They can go from chaos to structure at will, and the change is so dramatic that it catches the listener off guard.

I gave the debut 5 *’s, and rightfully so, but I want to give this one more!!!! www.moonjune.com

MORAINE Manifest Density

Album · 2009 · Jazz Related Rock
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kev rowland
Playing this album now, some four years after it was originally released, it is somewhat hard to realize that this is a debut. Here is a band that somehow fuses the strange weird anarchy of Art Zoyd with traditional Chinese influences, avant-garde jazz, hard rock and everything in between. The name of the band is in itself a clue to the music to be found inside the covers, as it is often defined as “An accumulation of boulders, stones, or other debris carried and deposited by a glacier”. What we have here are various talents who have somehow ended up in the same place and have formed a band, and sometimes they even sound as if they are on the same planet. I don’t want it to seem that there is no structure to what they are doing – rather it is the opposite, the only way musicians can play so diversely yet make total musical sense at all times is by having an innate agreement and strong understanding of the direction.

The line-up on the debut is Dennis Rea (electric guitar), Ruth Davidson (cello), Alicia Allen (violin), Kevin Millard (bass, baliset) and Jay Jaskot (drums) and while the rhythm section provides the foundation the three melody players vie for centre stage. I have lost count of how much I have been playing this, as it is one of those albums that has somehow refused to be review as every time I have tried to write the words I have instead sat back and let this incredible album flood over me. Personal favourite (today) is the title song, which starts with a repeated guitar line which is then joined by the others. Amazingly, this album was recorded in just three days yet is highly complex with purpose and direction. There is a real sense of togetherness and understanding of the journey to be followed which is often missing from this style of music where those involved are creating the path as they go along. Here the path is known, if only to them, and they follow it to new heights as if they know the route to the top, which may seem either impassable or invisible to others. An absolutely stunning album from the first note to the last.

MORAINE Manifest Density

Album · 2009 · Jazz Related Rock
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js
Sounding somewhat like a mix of King Crimson's Lark's Tongue in Aspic, Fred Frith's Gravity, Bartok string quartets and McLaughlin's Indo - fusion, Moraine's Manifest Density draws on both fusion and progressive rock's past, but synthesizes something totally fresh and new at the same time. With two string players on board they are able to expand further on the violin-rock sound initiated by Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson. In fact, it's that seamless mix of semi-sting section and jazz-rock trio that is the hallmark of this band's sound. Although this band can improvise on a scale comparable to the best fusion bands, their love of progressive rock composition often makes them more similar to jazzy prog-rock bands such as Focus or Quiet Sun. Meanwhile, their tendency to favor heavy diminished scale riffs with odd-metered rhythms will bring on the Mahahavishnu/Crimson reference again. To their credit though, despite all the obvious tributes to their favorites of the past, Moraine never sounds cheaply derivative or short on original musical ideas. Also, their tendency towards the occasional 'pretty' melody or chord progression makes them different from the harsher members of the jazz-rock set. Album closer, Middlebrau, in particular recalls a classic escalating 'prog-rock' chord progression, but with a more modern less indulgent approach.

Like many of the artists on the Moonjune label, Moraine has a very pure 'live' sound with little or no overdubbing or slick studio technology. The exact antithesis of ambient nu jazz, acid jazz, trip-hop or much of today's post-Laswell neo-psychedelic music, the individual musical lines of each player can be clearly heard and they are not buried beneath reverb, echo and a plethora of modern 'dubbing' techniques. If you are looking for a modern and original extension of bands like King Crimson, Henry Cow and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Moraine has it.

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