Friday, March 13, 2015

Max Ionata and Dado Moroni - "Two for Stevie"

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“The Jazz duo is an affirmative exercise in self-denial, a musical fast in which one gives up some expected ingredient in the cause of the greater good; intimacy, freedom, self-exploration, name your poison. Without the ballast of a beat, the emptiness leaves the duo in the back alley of the experimental where expectations are discouraged.”
- John McDonough, Down Beat

When I took a quick look at the title of the latest Via Veneto Jazz - Jando Production CD entitled Two for Stevie [VVJ 096] I thought that tenor and soprano saxophonist Max Ionata and pianist Dado Moroni [who also plays some bass of this recording] had dedicated an album to me!

But after closer review, I realized that the “Stevie” referenced in the CD title was composer and keyboard artist Stevie Wonder and not me. Over the last quarter of the 20th century, Stevie Wonder composed a host of songs so recognizable and broadly popular that a few notes from their melodies brings immediate recognition. To say that the music of Stevie Wonder is universally revered would be an understatement.

Even those of us whose singing in the shower can make ceramic tiles crack can effortlessly sing or hum along to the following lyric of Stevie’s smash hit - You Are The Sunshine of My Life:

“You are the sunshine of my life,
that’s why I’ll always be around.
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.

I feel like this is the beginning,
‘though I’ve loved you for a million years.

And if I thought our love was ending,
I’d find myself drowning in my own tears.
Whoa, whoa.

You are the sunshine of my life,
that’s why I’ll always stay around.
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.

You must have known that I was lonely,
because you came to my rescue.

And I known that this must be heaven,
how could so much love be inside you?

You are the sunshine of my life,
that’s why I’ll stay be around.
You are the apple of my eye,
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.”

By way of additional background on the project, Via Veneto Jazz and Jando Music, the co-producers of the CD, sent along the following media distribution on their latest release.

“After their Ellington tribute record - Two for Duke [VVJ 077] - Dado Moroni and Max Ionata are back together again in a project dedicated to another music icon: the legendary and incomparable Stevie Wonder (who, by no coincidence, wrote a tribute song Sir Duke for Ellington and musicians who influenced his work).

Considered one of the most prominent artists in the history of black music, Stevie Wonder built the foundation for the evolution of soul and R&B, thanks to his personal style, resulting from an infusion of pop, funk, reggae and jazz.

With jazz as their starting point, Dado and Max embark on an explorative quest of the "wonderful" Stevie,  playing his best-loved,  international hit songs in an innovative and distinctive style.

Produced by Jando Music, in collaboration with Via Veneto Jazz, the Two for Stevie [VVJ 096] retraces the stages of Stevie Wonder’s formidable artistic career:  from the enormous success of Songs In The Key of Life to the enchanting melodic effusiveness of  Hotter than July….

The intriguing interplay between Moroni’s piano and double bass and Ionata’s sax are featured on the following tracks:

> 1) Overjoyed (Stevie Wonder)
> 2) Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing (Stevie Wonder)
> 3) Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)
> 4) I Wish (Stevie Wonder)
> 5) Chan Song (Herbie Hancock – Stevie Wonder)
> 6) Love’s in Need of Love Today (Stevie Wonder)
> 7) Have a Talk with God (Stevie Wonder)
> 8) Send One Your Love (Stevie Wonder)
> 9) You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder)
> 10) The Secret Life of Plants (Stevie Wonder)
> 11) Ribbon in the Sky (Stevie Wonder)

You can locate the previous JazzProfiles feature on Two for Duke by going here.

More information about Via Veneto Jazz can be found on its website - Via Veneto Jazz’s latest releases can be acquired through You can also find its music at both as CD’s and Mp3 downloads and through Marco Valente’s online retail source -  

The following audio-only music file features Max and Dado on Stevie Wonder’s - You Are The Sunshine of My Life.

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