The Magic of Patrick Moraz
Scholarly and Skillful in Paramus!
A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Famed rock musician and keyboardist Patrick Moraz performed at the Anna Maria Ciccone Theater on the campus of Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey on March 11, 2011. The show was part of a two-day celebration of the man and his music. Day one featured an insightful lecture and demonstration called "At the Vanguard of Creativity: Interactive Technology in Real-Time" that the college's most recent "BCC Distinguished Artist" handled with flair. Night two was a long-awaited concert that was billed as a return to action for Moraz and the fourth installment of the school's Ron Mazurek Scholarship Fund.


Despite the deluge of rain on that Thursday night the anticipation of the audience, many sporting Yes shirts, could not be dampened. The atmosphere in the intimate venue was congenial as people chatted and shot photos before Patrick took the stage. Throughout the two-hour show the audience was attentive while absorbing the wide range of scores and stories that Moraz shared.

Patrick Moraz was born in Switzerland and the composer and keyboardist is a prog legend. He is classically trained yet apt at a range of styles including jazz and rock. He has worked with an illustrious list of musicians such as Chick Corea and was a member of The Moody Blues for more than a decade. Yet, many associate him with his brief tenure in Yes. Although, Moraz only played on the Relayer album, he was with Yes on that world tour and won the respect of many prog-rock fans. Along with his solo projects, Patrick has written complex compositions for symphony orchestras.

Moraz's instruments were arranged in a circle and included a grand piano, two Kurzweil keyboards, a computer and a number of percussion devices. There was a large screen behind the set up for the first song. A visual display (Eyewithin) projected pretty pictures to complement Patrick's poignant playing. The sequence started with a dainty touch moving into a denser progression with Patrick pulling a few strings on the grand piano for additional drama.

"Thanks to everyone," greeted Patrick who dedicated the next piece to his wife, stating that it had been especially prepared for this program. The composition was a mix of rhythm patterns blended with a pageantry of piano parts. It was up-beat and Moraz encouraged the crowd to clap along.

"Beauty in the rain," commented Patrick as he introduced "Jungle Alien" - an assortment of recorded sounds and keyboards that resembled a classical guitar and thick rhythms. The composition ran the gamut from wild to whimsical.

Throughout the evening Patrick was effusive in his commentary about music, technology, writing and life in general. Moraz enthusiastically talked about creating compositions - mentioning that some of the music he was performing was prepared "exclusively for tonight". "Symphony of the Trees" was enchanting followed by a song utilizing the Ivory Patch which featured peppy progressions.

Moraz discussed working with Yes and the Moodys and gave illuminating insight into the naming of his first solo album entitled The Story of I. He performed a piece from that record which was an energizing exchange of beats and bold piano parts. Patrick added more sounds to the mix as the crowd clapped along.

During the show, Moraz invited a fan to come on stage and play. The man introduced himself as "MorningGlory" and he shined on his solo. Two additional musicians who were friends and colleagues of Moraz joined Patrick onstage for an innovative jam. One instrument referred to as a "harp" was a narrow electronic stick with keys that had a wind instrument tone.

"I love words," stated Moraz before playing the timely "Gentle Storm", which melded breezy and spacey textures with lyrics about the Universe. Patrick talked about an upcoming CD and performed a song from it. It was an orchestrated piece with many magical moments. "Rite of Passage" was a delightful dance of piano advancements.

The Yes fans got what they came for as Moraz moved into the Soon sequence from the epic "Gates of Delirium" and some other musical moments from the three song Relayer album. Patrick thanked the attentive audience for making his day. He ended the set by playing another new number for the first time live. It was a lavish layered sequence that was spirited and ended the concert on a positive note.

On a side note - we were pleasantly surprised to discover that co-directing the concert was one of our favorite indie artists from the past decade - Dan Sheehan of the Dan Sheehan Conspiracy. When Dan isn't fronting his own classicly twinged hard rock band he's helping the next generation of aspiring musicians through his work at BCC. The Dan Sheehan Conspiracy will perform at SXSW in March 2011 and we've learned that the quartet of Dave, Gian, Simon and Dan have returned to the studio to begin work on the forthcoming Conspiracy CD - now, that's one to look out for!

Related Links: For more information on PATRICK MORAZ and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Patrick Moraz | Anna Maria Ciccone Theatre | Dan Sheehan Conspiracy

(Originally Published on March 15, 2011)

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