“Dr. Michael Torregano, Morning Inspiration (KWS/Concord)
OCTOBER 30, 2019by: JOHN WIRTLEAVE A COMMENT
Like so many New Orleans musicians, Dr. Michael Torregano covers the stylistic waterfront. His influences include Earth, Wind & Fire, The Spinners and Michael Jackson as well as Oscar Peterson, George Benson, Al Jarreau and Miles Davis. A pianist, composer and singer adept at traditional jazz and standards, Torregano sweetens Morning Inspiration, his fifth album, with pop and rhythm-and-blues.
Besides playing piano, electric keyboards, kalimba and singing, Torregano composed, produced, engineered and mixed Morning Inspiration. The title song sets the album’s feel-good tone with melodic pop-jazz and a smooth-jazz groove. Torregano and Alex Geddes—the saxophonist who performs regularly with Torregano—ably fill the album’s dominant soloist roles. A multi-instrumentalist, Geddes moves to flute for “Live Wires,” an instrument well-suited for this Latin-tinged piece propelled by bassist Wilbur Thompson and drummer Chris Guccione. Another Latin-accented piece, “Mojitos After Dark,” incorporates Afro-Cuban rhythms, Ashlin Parker’s trumpet, Geddes’ sax and Mike Loupe’s well-cast guitar.
The punchy, sassy horn parts Geddes and Parker play in “The Groove” almost make big-band impact. A pop-R&B-jazz piece, “The Groove,” showcases Torregano’s composing chops and his electric keyboard playing, heard in call-and-response with Geddes’ sax.
The versatile Torregano moves to a mellow atmosphere for the ballad “Midnight Creep” and mystical ambiance for the album’s most vocal-laden track, “Ancestor’s Call.” These contrasting pieces and Morning Inspiration in total reveal Torregano’s versatility, bright musical personality and abundance of inspiration.
- John Wirt
“Keeping things consistently interesting is something this album has easily achieved. Midnight Creep is a definite highlight in that respect, it stands out for its cooler, late-night vibe, the spacious nature of the arrangement, and the subtle swagger with which the melody appears. Then you get the quicker pace and salsa-like movement and groove of Mojitos After Dark to further that late-night aura with a little energy and motivation.
Retro tones shine well through vintage keys on Saturday Night Sexy. Then another classic groove emerges, complete with a rise and fall sentiment that’s quickly hypnotic. Cruisin afterwards smooths things out for an again perfectly titled piece that seems well suited to a short drive or journey without time restrictions. There’s a lightness to the notes, the octave chosen here, and it works well at this late stage.
Blues For Plooky is another highlight, a big-band track with a gorgeously joyful bounce and melody to it – as memorable as the opener and a simple delight to turn up loud. Then the stylish bass leads the way once more for The Next Chapter, prompting you to consider the underlying intentions and artistic direction of the whole project. Again, this near-melancholic yet still optimistic and confident piece adds something cool to the collection.
In The Zone rounds things up and sees the album finish in an energetic and engaging manner. A touch of vocals help create a sense of togetherness, and that melodic back and forth – that call and response – helps present familiarity and something that’s easy to like. The jazz hi-hats stand out well alongside the contrasting bass. A great way to finish and an album that’s absolutely on par, at the very least, with some of the best new jazz and blues instrumental releases out there. Dr. Michael Torregano is undeniably one to look out for.”
- Rebecca Cullen
“Dr. Michael Torregano is a New Orleans-based Jazz pianist and educator who has been in love with music since he was a small child. He has earned three music degrees, including a doctorate in Music Education from Boston University, taught esteemed contemporary players like Nicholas Payton and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. He released his fifth CD as a leader, Morning Inspiration, in July of 2019.
Morning Inspiration is comprised of 11 incredible tracks where he uses genres, such as Blues and Jazz. The album opens with beautiful composition called Morning Inspiration which, in my opinion, is a great choice for the album opener. Starting with the saxophone, it brings vibes of contemporary jazz music. The composition is followed by Live Wires - tune with pleasant melody, which gives listeners samba vibes. The Groove, as well as Mojitos After Dark, - surprises us with the percussion parts: this song literally makes us feel the whole mood of the album. Catchy verses and melodic chorus will definitely stay in the head for a long time. The 4th song on the record, Ancestors Call, impressed me with its atmosphere and percussion: vocal effects made this song interesting and remarkable. Saturday Night Sexy, which is one of my favorites from the album, is an easily memorable song: it starts with keys and develops in track with catchy melody and rich arrangement. Cruisin, the 8th song on the record, is the one that will definitely make listeners relax because of its calmness. Catchy piano and bells make this track an example of modern Jazz track. Blues For Plooky, as well as In The Zone, surprises listeners with the retro-touched arrangement which perfectly contrast with other songs on the record. Reflective and meaningful tracks Midnight Creep and The Next Chapter are the ones that help you to dive deep in thoughts after a hard day.
To sum up, everything in Morning Inspiration comes together in a stream of consciousness style. These 11 tracks will definitely transfer you into another dimension of inspirational Jazz music.”
“Review: Dr Michael Torregano – ‘Morning Inspiration’
Based in the heart of New Orleans, Dr Michael Torregano is a jazz pianist and educator who has spent his life in love with music. After earning three degrees in music, including a doctorate in Music Education from Boston University, Michael has gone on to lead a strong career, teaching and working alongside esteemed contemporary players like Nicholas Payton and Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, as well as Allen Toussaint, Dave Bartholomew, Donald Harrison, Victor Goines, Rita Coolidge, Lowell Fulsom, and George Benson.
A pianist since the age of four, Michael is still motivated by music every day of his life, building his own style on a blend of traditional New Orleans sounds and classic smooth jazz. Influenced by iconic artists including Oscar Peterson, George Benson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, and John Coltrane, Michael has created a unique, personal sound that he’s refined over decades of performing. Having performed alongside his brother Joseph Torregano's quartet for thirty years, and with his own group for the last twenty, Michael’s work has drawn comparisons to Teddy Wilson, Joe Sample, and Herbie Hancock, but as ‘Morning Inspiration’ shows, it isn’t easily defined by such simple measures.
His fifth album as a leader, ‘Morning Inspiration’ contains eleven original compositions that portray the "Feel Good, Grooving Music” style that Michael has crafted. Presenting a timeless sound that has been built with refreshing, modern energy, the new album has all the hallmarks of a timeless jazz epic, joining together easy listening vibes with a vibrant big band sound and smooth jazz foundations. Conveying a series of emotive and diverse pieces that all shine with an unshakeable big-band aesthetic. Tracks such as ‘Live Wires’, ‘Midnight Creep’, and ‘Saturday Night Sexy’ all spark with a modern touch, combining evocative melodies with flourishes of tempered brass and an unshakeable vibe, capturing the many shades of the album in beautiful form.
In his early work, Michael has always said his goal is to make people feel good about themselves and their current situations through music, and with ‘Morning Inspiration’, he’s certainly shown that he has the skills, training, and passion to do just that. One of New Orleans' most acclaimed and impressive musicians, the new album is a deft and expansive taste of what Michael and his band have to offer.
Michael’s new album is available now on CD Baby.
Connect with Dr. Michael Torregano
Dr. Michael Torregano, Doctor Jazz (MikeyJazz Music)
FEBRUARY 26, 2015by: GERALDINE WYCKOFFLEAVE A COMMENT
If the name Dr. Michael Torregano sounds familiar, it should.
The New Orleans born multi-instrumentalist has been working and teaching for decades in his hometown and beyond. For over 30 years, he has been playing piano with his brother, clarinetist Joseph Torregano. On Doctor Jazz, his second outing as leader, he applies his talents as a pianist in solo, trio and quartet settings. His band includes locals clarinetist and saxophonist Louis Ford, bassist Al Bernard, and drummer Sullivan Dabney.
The album, which is full of classic material from Crescent City composers such as the great King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton and others like Benny Goodman and Cole Porter, could best be described as pleasant to the ear. In other words, it is very musical. It hits you that way from the opening measures of the standard “I Could Write a Book.” The well-recorded tune swings gently with the trio heightened by some lovely piano flourishes provided by Torregano.
Torregano’s minimalist, single note solo introduction to Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” sets the tone for the emotional drama of the song. It is quite elegant.
On Doctor Jazz, the pianist is at his best in the world of ballads and romance as heard on “Old Folks.” He does show he can fly on Benny Goodman’s and Charlie Christian’s upbeat “7 Come 11” that features Louis Ford on clarinet. He’s also got it swinging on “Just One of Those Things.” That’s Torregano singing on this cut, the only tune that includes vocals.
Doctor Jazz makes one want to hear more from the talented Michael Torregano on recordings and on the scene.
- Geraldine Wycoff
“Michael Torregano reaches deep into the American songbook, a favorite source of material for the New Orleans pianist. Folks with similar musical tastes are sure to know every tune and probably all the lyrics on For Your Ears Only. On this outing, Torregano also reminds us of his talents as a singer, or more accurately a jazz vocalist. He only sang one tune on 2015’s release, Doctor Jazz, though here he ups the ante and adds vocals to four tunes, including an interestingly arranged and delivered chestnut, “When My Dreamboat Comes Home.” It opens with the drums of Chris Guccione and the bass of Wilbur Thompson, who alternates on cuts with bassist Al Bernard, the only musician in the group who was also featured on Torregano’s previous album. “I think I’ll play my piano now,” says Torregano, who takes a long, rather funky solo complete with piano trills. Jamil Sharif’s trumpet takes it out struttin’.
The band is in its more typical swinging mode on another classic, “Almost Like Being in Love,” on which Torregano again reaches for the microphone. New Orleans steps in to take over on Thomas Henry Delaney’s 1921 tune, “Jazz Me Blues,” which has been recorded by a number of ensembles including the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Sharif’s trumpet is the star of the show on this one.
Torregano’s only solo piano piece is a wistful version of “Over the Rainbow” that he emotionally presents. For Your Ears Only, which ends with the lively “I Want to Be Happy,” should suit those who enjoy a sentimental journey down memory lane.”
- Geraldine Wycoff