While he is most famous for playing keyboards with YES, and the Moody Blues, Patrick’s talent, vision, and personality really shine on his solo albums. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him play up close, and his virtuosity is simply dazzling. Seeing his fingers blaze across the ivory gives me the the sense of what it must be like to create, without being limited by the technical encumbrances of a musical instrument. That is to say, he can play exactly what he imagines, without having to think about where to put his fingers. For him, playing appears as effortless as talking–he can actually play a phrase faster than I can say one. Check out his work here, and read his full bio after the video. Not only is he a brilliant artist, he’s incredibly funny, kind, wonderful person. I couldn’t be more excited that Patrick Moraz is involved with SYNC!
From the intimate setting of his CHAT tour, to arena shows with YES, Patrick Moraz has dazzled audiences for decades with technical virtuosity, and musical imagination.
The Early Years
Born in Switzerland, Patrick studied a variety of instruments as a child. Clara Haskil, Romanian concert pianist, and foremost authority on the works of Mozart, Shubert, Bach and Beethoven was the catalyst for Patrick’s serious commitment to the piano, and led to his attending the Conservatory of Lausanne, where he studied harmony and counterpoint with Nadia Boulanger.
At sixteen, Patrick became the youngest winner of the prestigious “Best Soloist Award” at the Zurich Jazz festival. Soon after, he opened European concerts for jazz legend, John Coltrane.
A Professional Career Takes Flight
After performing throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Patrick became a full time musician, honing his skills as part of Geneva’s Studio de Musique Contemporaine. In addition, he scored Alain Tanner’s films, La Salamandre, and Le milieu du Modne.
He also formed the revolutionary rock group, Mainhorse, with good friend (and bassist), Jean Ristori. The group recorded Mainhorse for Polydor Records, and toured Western Europe and England. While the group disbanded in 1972, Patrick and Jean Ristori toured Japan, and the Far East, with a Brazilian Ballet Company for much of that year.
Upon returning to Switzerland, Patrick (with the help of friend and mentor Guy Bovet, world renowned organist) composed the score for Claude Goretta’s film, L’Invitation—Grand Prix du Jury winner at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival. Many more scores would follow throughout Patrick’s career.
Patrick moved to London in the spring of 1973 and formed Refugee, with English musicians Lee Jackson and Brian Davison—both former members of The Nice. The band reached international fame, and toured in support of their critically acclaimed self-titled LP, before parting ways in 1974.
Yes, and The Moody Blues
Having firmly established himself as an innovative and virtuosic keyboardist and composer, Patrick was asked to join progressive rock pioneers, YES, contributing to what is considered the band’s seminal work, Relayer. The band toured the world, virtually non-stop, for the next three years playing to audiences as large as 135,000 (JFK in Philadelphia, 1976).
While YES was on hiatus, Patrick record his first solo album, the visionary “i” (The Story of I). Released in 1976 by Atlantic Records, The Story of I was voted Best Keyboard Album of the Year by Keyboard Magazine, with Patrick being named Best New Talent. Brazilian percussion played a prominent role on the album and led Patrick to long stint in Brazil. While there he immersed himself in Spanish languages and idioms, and played shows and festivals throughout Latin America.
The Moody Blues then invited Patrick to play on the promotional world tour for their comeback album, Octave. He was later made a fulltime member, and contributor on the album, Long Distance Voyager. The album reached #1 on Billboard, and went on to sell 11 million copies worldwide.
Creative Diversity Soars
In addition to touring with the Moody Blues, Patrick performed with his own band (formed in Brazil), and was invited to play the Montreux and Sao Palo Jazz Festivals. There he met jazz great, Chick Corea, whom he later worked with on two albums–along with French bassist, Bunny Brunel.
Patrick continued to record solo albums, including the revolutionary, Future Memories I (1979), and Future Memories II (1982). Both were spontaneously composed and recorded on live television broadcast throughout Europe.
In Late ’79, Patrick recorded Co-Existence, an exploration of music idioms, with pan flutist Simon Stanciu. The album married the ancient melodic tones of the pan flute with modern synthesizers.
Continuing the trend of collaborating, Patrick recorded two critically albums with YES alumnus, Bill Bruford: Music for Piano and Drums, and Flags.
The 1990’s, Today, and Beyond
Patrick left the Moody Blues in 1991 to expand his solo horizons, subsequently recording Windows of Time, his ninth solo album. Robert Doerschuk, of Keyboard Magazine hailed the album, noting, “If Beethoven had gigged with YES, he might have wound up sounding like this!”
In 1995 Patrick endeavored to bring the audience and musician closer together by embarking on the Coming Home America Tour–better know as CHAT. Playing for small private, and semi-private audiences, the tour was a smash, and lead to the equally successful CHAT II tour.
Resonance, and ESP, two new piano albums were released in 2000, and 2003 respectively. In 2001 he was commissioned to compose a one-hour symphony that was performed live on French-speaking television channels all over the world.
A serendipitous meeting with Rob Ayling, owner of Voice Print Records, led to much of Patrick’s music being reprised and manufactured on that label, where he joined numerous visionary artists of the last half of the 20th Century; their music sounding better than ever, and made available to a broader audience.
The 21st Century has seen the release of Change of Space (2009), a collection of never-before-released material featuring many of the talented musicians Patrick has worked with in the past; as well as the re-mastering of twenty CD’s, and two DVD’s. In addition, Patrick is in the final post-production stages of three new CD’s (two live, and one studio), and A Way to Freedom, a studio album that is due in 2012.
Returning to his classical roots, Patrick is also developing a symphony in four movements that will feature electronic instrumentation, as well as conventional orchestrations. Additionally, he is composing a Cantata for SATB Choirs in 7 movements. The piece, an homage to Our Planet, and its fragile ecological state, is intended to be the catalyst for symposiums focused on the support of new preservation strategies, and sustainability initiatives.
Patrick strongly believes that music and the arts are vital to the survival of the human spirit, and he continues to spread this mantra: Free Musical Inspiration and Artistic Methods Applied to Social Concerns.