Irish guitarist John Moriarty was a Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition finalist some years back and he has performed with guitarist Louis Stewart in the US, and also with sax legend Bobby Watson of Art Blakey’s famous Jazz Messengers fame. He has made frequent appearances at Guinness Jazz Festival, the Glasgow Jazz festival, and regularly plays in Dublin venues such as JJ Smyth’s and Vicar Street.
He has recorded and toured with U.S. pianist Bill Carrothers, and as a member of the Irish organ-led trio Organics, he has performed at the Glasgow Jazz Festival and at Mexico City's Euro-Jazz Festival.
The guitarist has been building his own arch-top guitars for the past 11 years and his instruments have featured at important guitar festivals and events, at home and abroad. Indeed he employed his own "Model-D" guitar on all eight tracks of his fine debut album, Echoes, which was recorded in Brooklyn over the course of one day in July 2012, with three young New Yorkers - pianist Randy Ingram, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Adam Pache.
The record is a cohesive mix of standards and self-composed numbers by Moriarty. Jerome Kern’s Yesterdays is the opener, totally transformed from its origins into a rippling fast-flowing exercise, with a tactile feel for light and shade too.
It's followed by the fusion-era funk of Wayne Shorter’s Fall. Moriarty’s own composition, Echoes of the Future, charges along with fluid imagination and bluster, and ends in a beautiful decline and fall. The down-beat Ninety Six has a curiously elusive, mystical-bluesy mood, like a thought kept unspoken. In the ensemble's assured take of Billy Strayhorn's A Flower is a Lovesome Thing you sense musical depth plumbed exhilaratingly, but pensively too.
Another Moriarty vehicle, the hard-edged Delirium lopes along on reasonably heavy, funky bass and drums, while the record concludes with a boldly transformed reading of the old Karl Suessdorf classic, Moonlight in Vermont, on which Moriarty plays the "Model-D" instrument acoustically. Highly recommended.