Patrick Moraz is a keyboardist, best known to have been a member the of progressive rock groups, "Yes" and "The Moody Blues". Originally from Switzerland, Patrick was exposed to musical greats such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Yehudi Menuhin, and others at a young age due to his father's involvement in the entertainment field. Starting out with the violin, he quickly switched to the piano and progressed all the way through the Swiss Conservatory of Music in Lausanne. Having tested many genres like blues, boogie woogie, jazz and rock, Patrick wound wind up winning local music contests and eventually formed a band with members of "The Nice" after Keith Emerson left to form ELP. This eventually led Patrick to join "Yes" and "The Moody Blues" and have a wonderful creative career that continues to this day. Patrick and long time drummer friend Greg Alban have just released a new CD called "MAP". I recently had an in depth conversation with Patrick.
P.M. - Hello, this is Patrick.
R.V.B. - Hello Patrick, this is Robert von Bernewitz from Long Island, New York. How are you today?
P.M - Very good...very good
R.V.B. - That's a very nice accent that you have. I know I don't have one.
P.M. - Not to me (hahaha)
R.V.B. - How's things down in sunny Florida?
P.M. - Very good actually. The last two days have been fantastic with the weather because we've had rain for eight or nine weeks straight before that. Mind you, we always need the rain.
R.V.B. - Sometimes Florida can be real dry. What part of Florida are you in?
P.M. - I’m on the Gulf of Mexico, about an hour from Tampa.
R.V.B. - That's nice over there. How did you wind up in Florida?
P.M. - In 1997 I was in route to Orlando, FL from Los Angeles where I had been living for quite some time. I was going to be doing some recording at Full Sail Studios which at the time was part of Full Sail Real World Education, but as of 2008 it became Full Sail University. The University has about a million square feet and they have a great educational system for recording, video, engineering, programming and all multimedia. It is where I recorded my first piano solo album in 1993, “Windows of Time”. It was one of the very best studios in Florida at the time and of course, is even more sophisticated now! Anyway, in answer to your question, I was seated (on the plane) next to a very nice guy by the name of Joseph Rivers who happened to be a sound engineer and the owner of “Audio Playground” in Winter Park, Fl (which is part of Orlando). “Audio Playground” was a very large facility that contained 3 recording rooms and tons of music memorabilia. Most importantly, Joseph was an avid collector of keyboards and had at the time about 650 of them. Needless to say, we wound up moving to Florida and for the next three years I recorded and composed at “Audio Playground”. During that time an additional 600 keyboards were added to the collection for a grand total of about 1300 keyboards and “Audio Playground” became officially a Synthesizer Museum.
R.V.B. - Now I know why they call it a playground. (ha,ha ha)
P.M. - Since then it has closed, but I did quite a lot of recordings there and a lot of experimentation. I'm very happy to say that I had a fantastic time. After that, we decided to move from Orlando towards the sea... for tranquility and being able to walk on the beach. However I'm still traveling quite a lot and my wife and I devote a lot of our time to being in Los Angeles, the rest of the United States and Switzerland.
R.V.B. - I know that you went to Los Angeles to work on your current album and you also did some of it at your local studio. I have a copy of it and I have to say, I've been listening to it over and over again and I think it's fantastic! For an instrumental record, there's quite a bit happening on it. There's some nice players on it also. Was that just something you and your friend Greg Alban wanted to do?
P.M. - Greg is a very good friend whom I’ve known for more than 30 years. In 1985 while in California during my time with the Moody Blues I had a few days off and one night I went to “The Red Onion” in Manhattan Beach. There was a very good dance band playing that night and that is where I discovered Greg and an excellent bass player by the name of John Avila, who later went on to play with Oingo Boingo.
I was preparing my "Time Code" album during this time (1985) and I was going to be recording three tracks at The Record Plant which was the best studio in LA. It was extremely sophisticated and I had the great engineer Lee Decarlo, who was on John Lennon's “Double Fantasy,” working on it with me. Because I was really impressed with Greg’s drumming and John’s bass playing I hired them to play on those three tracks for “Time Code”.
Greg and I stayed in contact over the years and became good friends. We always found the time to jam together either when I was visiting Los Angeles or when I was residing in there.
Eventually after having moved to Florida, one day Greg called me out of the blue and said "Hey Patrick, how about composing some music and maybe we could do a whole album? I just happen to be able to be in the position to produce the album and also finance it.” So I put my compositional skills to work and I came up with 14 pieces. He and I chose the nine pieces which are on this “MAP” album, which means the “Moraz Alban Project”. The material became so clear, so good, and so enticing, I decided to go many times to Los Angeles to pursue the album. The work was done in a very good studio we were using called "Total Access" in Torrance, California. The owner is a great veteran engineer by the name of Wyn Davis who has a long history with all kinds of bands and genres of music, not only instrumental music.
It was really a pleasure to work with Greg on this project and also to be able to choose some of the players that we wanted to play with, i.e. - John Avila who is a fantastic bass player from Oingo Boingo, also Lenny Castro, the world-famous percussionist , - currently on Tour with TOTO - who is a friend of Greg’s, whom I didn't know personally but he knew me and when he heard some of the music he said "Oh wow, man that's great, I'm interested!” So he headed to the studio with a huge amount of cases of percussion instruments. He played on 5 or 6 of the tracks excellently. It was a very, very good addition to the orchestration and to the arrangements. Also, Dave Van Such, a multi-instrumentalist heavyweight on tenor sax, who is also a good friend of Greg’s.
R.V.B. - I noticed it was mixed very well because at times, I had a hard time telling whether you were playing the bass with your left hand or the bass player was playing it. It was a perfect mix.
P.M. - Thank you for your compliments on the CD.
R.V.B. - I'm being truthful and honest about it. Instrumental music is not for everyone. When I listened to it the first time, I enjoyed it and I immediately put it on again. I've had it for about two weeks now, and since then I've must have played it for about seven times. I just like it and enjoy it. I don't know what else I can say about it. I think the writing on it is fantastic. The songs flow from one to the next. As a whole entire package it just seems to work.
P.M. - I really appreciate that. Also I have to mention, the other bass player on “MAP”, from Switzerland, who is one of the top players in that part of Europe is Patrick Perrier. His bass playing is absolutely unbelievable! I recorded a several pieces with him a few months ago, which are going to be on a new album with a group I have formed over there. On MAP, he did a fantastic job on the tune called "Mumbai Mantra." Originally I had called it just Mumbai, but then an Indian guy told me “you should put Mantra with Mumbai." so I did! Then to add some color to the piece Matt Malley, the great bass-player, formerly of “Counting Crows“, added some slide-electric sitar, which was very expertly played! He's a very good friend of mine. Every time we go to LA, we make a point to visit with him and his wonderful family. He's got a cool place that used to be owned by one of the engineers who did some recordings for Michael Jackson when Quincy Jones was producing him on Dangerous and Thriller.
R.V.B. - I know that you're classically trained originally; did your parents listen to classical music?
P.M. - Both of my parents were working for music agents in Paris before World War ll. Also, when my father was very young in his early 20's for several years he worked for Paderewski who was the best known pianist out of Poland at the time. He was world renowned for playing Chopin and composing his own music. Paderewski was also Prime Minister of Poland in exile in Switzerland, in Morges, the very town where later, I was born. He was traveling around Europe at the time on a special train which could carry four grand pianos. He also played in New York at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden in the 30's where he was the highest paid pianist in the world. I suppose this is where the seed was planted in my father’s mind for me to become a concert pianist, that was his dream for me.
I started with violin first because my parents were working at the time in Paris with the agent of the “world renowned” violinist Yehudi Menuhin. I got my first violin from him, which I still have. I started to play when I was about 3, for several years. I started the piano by myself just listening to big bands and the music of the 50's. My dad was managing community buildings which would have a cinema, a theater with swing bands and a few restaurants with banquet rooms. At the town where I was born in Morges Switzerland, they had a casino and that's where I started to play music. Then we also lived in the North of Switzerland where they call it "The Ice Bowl" in the winter because it is so cold. It was so cold that sometimes in the rooms where I was playing, the strings of my violin would be full of ice. I enjoyed listening to music but I realized the piano was really more my instrument. I used to hide under the grand piano when the big bands were playing. One day the director of the big band noticed me and he took me under his wing. The first thing he showed me was how to play boogie-woogie and the blues. He told me all of the rules of the 12 bar blues. I got into all this music of the time and also before that, like New Orleans, Dixieland and so on.
Eventually I got to be part of different amateur groups and bands and developed my skills. I didn't really have classical training “per se“. I was enrolled in The Conservatory of Music in Lausanne which is not far from the town where I was born. I was able also to sneak in to see Nadia Boulanger who was the authority on “harmony and counterpoint“. She held Master classes every month at the Conservatory. One day she noticed me and she asked me a question in front of all the advanced students about counterpoint and other music theory subjects, and I could explain it. Not really by words but I could play it on the piano. She asked me if I could improvise a little piece, and I came up with something on the spot. They were very impressed and she let me attend all of her master classes after that.
R.V.B. - I noticed that she taught a lot of famous students.
P.M. - Later on I had the opportunity to know some of them afterwards. In Geneva and in Paris, I used to work as an assistant to a musician who used to work for Pierre Boulez. I would help with the partitions and so on. Also with Xenakis and Stockhausen. I was near all of these people.
When I was 9 or 10, I had the great fortune to meet some of the people that my dad used to hire for certain festivities like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and John Lewis from the Modern Jazz Quartet. I had the privilege to have two lessons with John Lewis. I started to compete in some jazz festivals for young players when I was 16 and my first reward was two lessons with Stephane Grappelli. Not only was he a great violinist but he was a fantastic pianist. Nobody really knows that. He taught me so much in a couple of lessons. I met him through the years and it was always a pleasure to see him. When I was in my early 20's, I had won the “Jazz Festival of Zurich” 5 times in a row as either a solo artist or with my trio and/or quartet. The last one we won, our reward was to open for John Coltrane’s quartet throughout Europe for several concerts.
R.V.B. - Some of those names you’re mentioning are American jazz legends to the highest degree.
P.M. - Absolutely. I developed a friendship with McCoy Tyner, the fantastic pianist, the late Jimmy Garrison, the great bass player and Elvin Jones, an unbelievable drummer! I met Elvin again in the 90's in Los Angeles. However, one of my biggest idols at the time was Oscar Peterson.
R.V.B. - He sure knew how to play the piano.
P.M. - I only met Oscar Peterson once, backstage after one of his concerts. But In 1981, as a member of The Moody Blues, we played some huge concerts at Wembley. At the end of one of the concerts, a very well dressed guy comes up to me and says "Hello Patrick, my name is Oscar Peterson." And I said : "Oh Yeah, I'm the Pope."
R.V.B. - Hahaha
P.M. - He said "No, I'm Oscar Peterson Jr. My dad asked me to thank you so much for requesting to have this “double-manual 8 voice/16 oscillators Oberheim special keyboard built." I had requested it to be built from Tom Oberheim himself. I had the number 1 and Oscar Peterson had number 2, I believe. Not too many people knew that he was recording electronic music and was crazy about synthesizers. He had these in his studio in Toronto. Those guys are my major influences. It was great to see Oscar Peterson Jr. coming to say that to me!
R.V.B. - That is a great story. So eventually you moved to England. I heard that you got kicked out because of union troubles?
P.M. – Absolutely! When I was 20, I spent the summer in the North of Spain in Cadaques, sometimes at Salvador Dali's property in Port Lligat. I had the great opportunity to get to know Salvador Dali and Gala, his wonderful wife. I was a scuba diver instructor, as I had taken my courses from the French Cousteau School of scuba diving. I was also playing music in the area and as well, organizing some concerts for him and his guests. I was probably one of the very few people allowed into his studio while he was painting which was an unbelievable experience and privilege!
R.V.B. - That's a lifetime achievement in itself. He's one of the world's great artists. To interact with him had to be a thrill.
P.M. - Yes, it was unbelievable! It was an opportunity that couldn't be missed. After spending four months there, I came back to Switzerland. My dad realized, although I spent all this time there, that I still really didn't have a job. I had gone to a University and had a degree but I never learned English. I had learned Greek and Latin because I originally wanted to be an anthropologist. My dad was managing a restaurant at the time in Geneva and he said I could spend a week or two in one of his kitchens and I could learn how to cook. Then he said, “you could go to England and learn English while being an Au pair cook.” He bought me a tuxedo just in case I was invited to a party. So I took a job to cook three meals a day for 167 people every day at the Oratory Preparatory School. That was one of the hardest jobs I ever had in my life! I had to get up every morning at 5 o'clock and prepare toast and breakfast for a school of kids and their professors. It was a little bit like “Hogwarts” from the “Harry Potter” movies, but nothing as sophisticated. I arrived in London in early November, it was really cold, and the journey by train took five hours between London and Bournemouth.
After the New year, I discovered the pubs and that there were pianos in some of them. I also discovered I could play church organ. I convinced a priest that he could make more money if I played the organ every Sunday. (Hahaha) As a cook I was making only £2 & 88 pence a week. I was working about 16 hours a day and it was really hard! So I started to play in the pubs, a little bit here, a little bit there, on Saturday nights. Eventually, I was asked by a venue to play for ladies who came by to get tea in the afternoon, a tea salon, where ladies would play bridge. I played three times a week there. I didn't know that I was not allowed by the Law of England to have another job other than being an Au Pair cook. After a few weeks, suddenly the Secretary of the local Musicians Union of Bournemouth came in with two Bobbies and said "You are not allowed to play. You do not have a work permit and you have to leave the country." I did... I had to! I had two days to pack up my bags. I had just about finished my course on learning English. So I went to France and two days later, I was back in England! Then I met some great musicians there, who asked me if I wanted to play some keyboards in their band, “The Night People“. I did, and then we started to do some gigs and then I was kicked out again! So at that time, I decided to leave England for a good 9 months.
During that time I took a job selling Encyclopedia Britannica in Geneva. I was also playing some gigs in Germany and in France with my own trio that I had formed. I won the Zurich Jazz Festival in 65 with the quartet and the small reward was a trombone…but the big reward was to open for John Coltrane and his quartet! Also, I took my first trip to New York via Mexico and Miami. I arrived on the very day of the 9th of November, exactly 50 years ago, at Idlewild airport. I was with a group studying economics as a post-graduate student to learn how to manage and develop supermarkets. The very first day I arrived was 11/9. In Switzerland we reverse the day and month. I never really realized the significance of the date until much later! We checked in to the Hilton on 7th Avenue in N.Y.C. I unpacked, quickly changed and got in to the elevator from the 39th floor to head out and see some friends of mine whom I’d met a the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. By the time I arrived to the bottom floor it was 5:27 P.M.,suddenly all the lights went off! (Hahaha) Fortunately we were already on the ground! I was thinking to myself "They're very economical here in New York. That's great that they switch off the lights to save money." It was the “big Blackout“ of New York! I remember that there was a full moon on the Hudson and there was an orchestra in the hotel playing acoustically, with violins and accordions and so forth. Everybody was drinking and happy and all the drinks were free. The only thing that was working were the telephones. I had to go all the way up to the 39th floor using a candle for light, to take a call from Switzerland. Of course I came back down because there was nothing else to do and it was a big party downstairs. In a way, it's one of my greatest memories because I was even asked to play the piano at the Hilton. I played some blues numbers.
R.V.B. - I can see it being a lasting memory. I remember it myself. I was young at the time but I remember it very well.
P.M. - Exactly 20 years ago I did a whole tour, which was called the "Coming Home America Tour“, (CHAT). It was booked entirely through the Internet. It was at the end of 1994 and beginning of 95. I did 92 concerts which lasted through November of 95, mainly in America, but there were some in Europe as well. When I played in New York, I had invited some friends to jam with me, most notably, the unbelievable guitarist from my first two solo albums, Ray Gomez. I had a Steinway Grand Piano that was tuned perfectly. I had asked the venue to turn out the lights and the cash registers for the duration of my acoustic section. The club was full, they did it and it was a fantastic experience which for me was reminiscent of my experience during the blackout of N.Y. in 1965.
R.V.B. - How did you get invited to play in Yes?
P.M. - It was a very sudden thing. I was with this group "Refugee" which I loved very much. We were just promoting an album, which came out in April of that year. We had done concerts for three weeks, we had done one in Switzerland and in August we were going to be doing three more. At the end of July, I had been contracted to do a score for a movie with Gerard Depardieu, he was one of the big movie stars in France and I composed the score for the orchestra. I was also doing a cameo for the movie “The wonderful Crook“ in Geneva. The next day, on a Monday, I came back to England, where I had a basement apartment in Earls Court. When I arrived from the airport and put my bags down, the phone rings and it's Brian Lane, a.k.a. "Harvey Freed." He was the manager of Yes for many years. I knew they were looking for a keyboard player, they were auditioning people from all over the world, Japan, Norway, Germany and other places. And they had just auditioned the great Vangelis. Brian said to me, "Patrick, I would like to invite you on Wednesday to see Yes rehearse." I said to him "You want me to do an audition for them!" (Hahaha) I was interested to see them, but I didn't need the gig, I already had a gig. I was a member of “Refugee” at the time, a group that was mutually started by Lee Jackson, Brian Davison and myself. Lee and Brian had both been members of the group “The Nice” with Keith Emerson. We had three more shows in the next few weeks.
So Brian came and picked me up at 2P.M. and nearly killed me with his car! Of course it was raining in London and the ground was very slippery. He took me to the North of London; the journey took a good hour and fifteen minutes. London is London, even if you take the freeway, it still takes a long time, there's all these roundabouts. We arrived at this gorgeous property with a farm and it had several outbuildings, one of which was used by Yes for rehearsing. I was first introduced to the roadies in another outbuilding where they were making tea and rolling joints and so on. Everyone in the band started showing up. Alan came up in one of those fantastic, racing green, convertible “Morgan“ sports cars, I'll always remember that! Steve came with his chauffeur in a vintage metallic blue “Alvis“, which is a pretty rare car. Jon arrived in his dark red R type Bentley. And a good twenty minutes later, Chris arrived in his dark red Silver Cloud Rolls Royce. That was quite a sight! I already knew the guys, I had met them in Montreux at the 1969 Golden Rose Festival which was a television festival which takes place months prior to the Montreux Jazz Festival. It has been going on for more than 40 years now. I was playing with my band and Yes was topping the bill. I had organized a party for them after the concert and that was our first meeting. Coming back to the audition cay, the main building on the farm was like a huge concert hall but it was a barn. It had all of the instruments, the drums, the basses, about 17 guitars, etc. In the back there was this most up to date, unbelievable technology of the time: A portable 24 track recording machine with a 56 channel console, that Eddie Offord, their engineer and producer had specially designed to take on the road to record the shows and also used at Chris's studio in Buckinghamshire. They tuned their instruments and they started to play the first part of the song "Sound Chaser" which they had just written. It blew my mind because I was in the middle, in the midst of it all, I was surrounded by them, I was knocked out! Then Steve, Jon and Chris showed me a place where there were some keyboards in the room. I understood they were Vangelis's because he had been playing with them and had left them there for a couple of weeks. There were a couple of Moog’s, an electric piano, an organ, and a Rhodes with some uneven keys. They asked me, "what would you do as an introduction to that song?" I realized the keyboards were out of tune, so I took my time, relaxed and tuned them. At the same time I was thinking about what kind of introduction I was going to instantly compose on the spot. I knew their music pretty well, I had played along in the past to Roundabout, And You and I, a little of Close to the Edge. They all came around the keyboards and they were watching me play. I said "How about this?" and I came up with what was to become the Introduction of “Sound Chaser”. I composed it on the spot, it was actually recorded there and then and it was used on "Relayer". I explained it to Chris and Alan, and they worked on their parts. The whole thing was recorded there in the next 30 minutes and that's what came out on the record.
R.V.B. - I presume you were accepted instantly.
P.M. - I think that's when I actually got the gig but nobody told me anything, that day. We jammed on some other stuff for a good hour and a half, then Eddie Offord took me back to London. The next day, on Thursday evening around 7 o'clock, Brian Lane called me and said "Patrick, guess what? You got the gig." He said "Don't worry, I've already spoken to your record company. They're ok with it." I was in total emotional disarray that night, it was a real combat with my conscience! I had to tell Lee Jackson and Brian Davison the next day. I told them with tears in my eyes! They were very nice and gracious about it. We still did the three gigs and they went very well. It really was a sad day for me, when I had to tell them. We still remained friends and stayed in contact over the years. Unfortunately, Brian Davison passed away in 2008 but he’d had a very good run with some great bands. Lee Jackson had moved to Los Angeles for many years and played bass for a lot of bands. The last time I saw him, I spent the evening with him and Chris Squire at The Roxy in Los Angeles. At that time I was with The Moody Blues.
R.V.B. - Those guys from Refugee were originally from The Nice.
P.M. - They originally were "The Nice" along with Keith Emerson. I think they started as a quartet with David O'List as the guitarist with the band but then they carried on as a trio. I had met them already in 1969, in Basel Switzerland. They were still called "The Nice". I had auditioned some drummers and guitarists in London for almost a week for my own group and my flight back was diverted to Basel because there was so much fog in Geneva. It was 10:30 at night and I asked the taxi driver to take me to a hotel. He saw my long hair and asked me if I was a musician. I said "Yeah". He said, “there was a great concert tonight, “The Nice“ played”. I said "Really? Is it over?" He said 'It just finished (he had brought back people from the concert hall), maybe you can see those guys at the hotel and jam." When I checked into the hotel there was about a hundred people celebrating Tony Stratton-Smith's birthday. He was the owner of Charisma Records who had The Nice, Genesis, Monty Python, Hawkwind, and many other bands on his label. Suddenly I saw Keith Emerson, I didn't know him but I had seen him in the papers and on television. He jumped on the piano in the foyer of the hotel and started playing some boogie-woogie and doing his runs. I watched him and everybody was like "Wow!” I thought maybe that was my chance, my instincts pushed me towards the piano. I was on my own and I didn't know anybody there! I prudently positioned myself next to him on the piano bench and started to jam with him. We jammed for a good hour together at speeds defying all human nature! (Hahaha) We were exchanging positions around the piano, sometimes he was on the left and sometimes I was on the left and he was on the right. We played a lot of Blues and a lot of boogie-woogie. I even remember jamming on 'The Flight of the Bumble Bee",(Hahaha) it was unbelievable! That's how I got to know the guys. I spent most of the night talking to Lee and Brian. There were no drugs, I'm happy to say. There was some aspect of beer and whiskey, which I eventually shared with them. We talked, and talked, and talked about music, they were so nice and so vibrant! We exchanged addresses and contact information and I said "If you ever need anybody in the future, give me a call."
After that I had my own band called "Integral Aim”, which I had expanded from the “ Patrick Moraz Quartet” to a six-piece band, with my very best friend and superb cello and bass player Jean Ristori, two drummers, Arnold Ott and Bryson Graham, a fantastic young 17 year-old drummer I had just auditioned in London, an excellent guitarist and singer from France, the late Jean-Auguste De Antoni, and an English singer we had auditioned earlier in London named Dave Kubinec. We had twice secured, a gig for a month each, in Basel, at the famous Atlantis Club! Later, we narrowed down to a four piece group. With original member Jean Ristori, I personally took upon me to “re-name” the group "Mainhorse Airline” and that was my original idea. However, due to artistic and various other discrepancies with the singer, I, once again, renamed the group, just and only, "Mainhorse". By then, the group consisted of myself, Jean Ristori, Bryson Graham and a very talented 18 year-old English guitarist by the name of Peter Lockett. We used to live in Geneva, and we had found a manager from South Africa named Sam Miesigaes. He also managed a group called "The Joint" which became "Daddy" and around a year later turned into "Supertramp". It had the same two original members Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson. We did some gigs with them in London and in Switzerland. In the next three years, 1969 through 1971, as “Mainhorse”, we did a lot of work in England and especially in Germany. We played at the famous “PN Club” in Munich, and also at the “Blackbird” in Geneva, the “Electric Circus” in Lausanne, and other places in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Kòln. Mainhorse stayed in England for a year or so after that.
Eventually I came back to the Continent to compose for Swiss and German movie scores. After that, in 1972, my great friend, bass player-&- engineer, Jean Ristori and I had the opportunity to go to Japan for several months, to play with percussionists from Brazil and to accompany 18 dancing girls. They did the Samba and the Macumba in an exotic ballet. I was also the musical director for the show and we did very well there. When that contract was over we took a scaled down version of it and performed in Hong Kong for a few months. We actually went on television with our act called "The Patrick Moraz Latin Quartet“. We had a lot of offers to perform there but some of the engagements were not that good so I often doubled, like my friend Jean, as a fashion photographer. A few of those photographer gigs were on private yachts. I met a Mr. Harilela, from India, with whom I developed a very good acquaintance-ship. He had one of the largest families in the whole of Kowloon. He took me under his wing and gave us the opportunity to work as photographers and also play some “piano-bass-&percussion” gigs. We were invited for a stay in a mansion that had more than 35 apartments for the family members. There was also, in that property, an entire inside temple with a gold statue of "Buddah Siddharta Gautama”. As soon as I got back to Switzerland, I immediately worked on the music composition and score for a movie called "The Invitation”, at the request of its Director Claude Goretta. The movie was shown for the first time at the Festival of Cannes in 1973 and it won the “Grand Prix du Jury“! It's like winning an Oscar here. That was also a huge breakthrough and success!
R.V.B. - At this point you already had a tremendous resumé.
P.M. - The day I finished 'The Invitation" score, I was preparing to travel again. I wanted to go to Africa because I had a little cash from the reward of the movie. The next day the phone rings and it's Lee Jackson from The Nice. He said, "Keith Emerson left the group to form ELP. Get your ass over here. We want to form a trio with you." (Hahaha)
P.M. - That was mainly for rehearsal. We recorded parts of "Relayer" at that time. We rehearsed for several weeks. The bulk of it was recorded at Chris Squire's own studio in Buckinghamshire. He had a great piece of property there with about 15 acres. It was a beautiful manor house, almost like a castle. We would converge on the studio in the early afternoon and stay until late at night. The journey from my Earls Court apartment was taking a good hour and a half each way. During that period, I had to learn all of the Yes material, prior to going on tour with them in November. It took me a good six weeks to learn the material because there was nothing written down on paper. I would listen to it in the car driving to the studio. I had also enrolled my good friend, the bass player from Mainhorse to be my engineer. He would take care of my keyboards and my sound on stage for the next few years with Yes. He was helping me to drive and was also helping me to transcribe some of the material from Yes, there was so much to learn! I had jumped from 7 keyboards to 14 keyboards on stage and I had about 35 flight cases for my keyboards. When we did the last three or four rehearsals at Shepperton Studios and were preparing to do our first tour of the United States, the band had around 192 flight cases and there were 53 roadies, as I recall. When I got the gig with Yes, it was at the end of the first week of August, because I remember Nixon resigned and was on TV all the time. It took six weeks to record "Relayer" and a couple of more weeks of rehearsal and then we were off on tour. I remember I had written these large memory sheets to take on stage with me because there was so much to remember. When we played Madison Square Garden, on November 20th 1974, (if my memory serves me right), we had a standing ovation for several minutes. The noise was absolutely unbelievable, it was so staggering in my ears! I had all of these sheets because there were so many changes in the music. An interesting thing with "Yes" at that time, was that the music was very complicated with not only chords and harmonies but the interaction with the keyboards and the bass and the guitars. With all of the accents and the time signatures, everything was complex. So anyway, getting back to those written sheets. It was precisely at this Madison Square Garden show that I came to realize that I knew the music by heart and I liberated myself from those sheets by throwing them down on the floor! It was a great success! We had a great empathy and chemistry between all of us. During the year of 1975, we decided to do solo albums. First Steve Howe asked me to take an active part in his first solo album “Beginnings”. He asked me to arrange and conduct the Orchestra for the title track, “Beginnings, which lasted 6 minutes and forty seconds, as well as playing the harpsichord during the recording sessions. Alan asked me to do a “cameo” for the video shoot of his album “Ramshackled” and Chris asked me to take a prominent participation in his solo album "Fish out of Water." It was a wonderful album! It was also the first time I played with Bill Bruford. Eight years later I formed the duo with him "Moraz-Bruford."
R.V.B. - As a matter of fact, yesterday I heard a Moraz-Bruford song on the local college radio station over here in Stony Brook WUSB
P.M. - Oh great! Was it Children's Concerto?
R.V.B. - I can't tell you which one it was because I didn't realize what I was listening to until they announced it.
P.M. - We named it Moraz-Bruford because I think it flows better through the tongue than Bruford-Moraz. (Hahaha)
P.M. – Absolutely! There was one at Roosevelt Stadium. It was a very good show during 1976. There was another one on the 12th of June 1976 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia. Peter Frampton was the opening act who had his big album out at the time. There were 135,000 people there, thanks to the managers who put us and him on the same bill. When you said before that everything comes full circle. Gary Wright was on the bill and he had stolen our drummer Bryson Graham from Mainhorse, three days before we went to the Jazz Festival in Montreux in 1969. He was actually 16 when he joined Mainhorse and he was a very good drummer. I had to ask his mother permission to take him to Switzerland with us. He could already play like John Bonham and Ginger Baker! When Gary Wright opened the show at JFK he had Andy Newmark on the drums who had played with Sly and the Family Stone, but he was also the drummer that played on my solo album “I“, a.k..a.“The Story of i“ as well as “Out in the Sun“ which would become my future second solo album. The other two guys with Gary Wright were the guys who formed Toto, the Porcaro brothers. There was another band also, The Pousette-Dart Band. That was one of the most memorable shows that I've done with Yes. The morning of the show, In Philadelphia, the title of The Philadelphia Inquirer was "The Million Dollar Bash, Comes to Town!” (Hahaha)
R.V.B. - That does sound like a big extravaganza. So eventually the Yes tenure ended. How did you get the call to join the Moody Blues?
P.M. However, I have to say that there were many more shows, much more history, as well as musical and creative interaction between us members, of Yes, in anticipation of the new album we were going to record: “Going For the One“!
P.M. - Now, to answer your previous question about the Moody Blues: In May of 1978, I had been to Los Angeles for an AES Convention (Audio Engineering Society), where Herbie Hancock taught me how to use a Vocoder at that time. I made a lot of contacts. I got asked to represent a company called APHEX and I represented them in Brazil. On my way to Brazil, I stopped in Miami because I had some free time. I discovered Coconut Grove and some record companies. At the hotel I was staying at, someone phoned from England and asked me if I wanted to join “a band”, I said “what's the band?" He said, “you probably don't know them because they’re an older band and they've been inactive for 5 years, they were very successful and they've decided to go back on the road. They think you would be an excellent choice for them as a keyboard player." I said, "Who is the band?" He said "The Moody Blues." I started to sing him “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon”. He was totally convinced and he said, “what are you doing, can you come back to London?" I said, “no, I'm on my way to Brazil again.” Luckily, I had kept my road crew and I had paid them during the time I was in Brazil. I had kept all of my instruments in extremely good shape. I said, "send me a fax to my hotel in Brazil and we'll take it from there." When I arrived in Brazil, the fax was waiting for me at the hotel. The letter asked if I could come on the 17th of July (it was 1978) to London, to the Decca recording studio and “We'll offer you an audition and see how it goes”. After Brazil, I flew back to Switzerland and performed a piano concert at the beautiful opera house, the Volkshaus Theater in Zurich. The concert was organized by a very good and supportive friend of mine and it was sold out. I had also been invited by Claude Nobs to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival, prior to my going to London. He also organized for me to play with some percussionists from Brazil like Airto Moreira and the future Minister of Culture for Brazil, Gilberto Gil. After that concert I flew to London, where I had my keyboards all organized and I was exactly on time, one hour before the other guys arrived. They arrived between 2 and 2:30 in the afternoon. I had all of my keyboards set up and tuned, three Mellotrons, four Mini Moogs, my CS-80, and many others. I had rehearsed the music and I was ready, i.e. - “Nights in White Satin”, “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Legends of a Mind”. At one point during the audition, because they had been off for five years as a group, I had to show them a part of a song, (Hahaha)! I got the gig that very afternoon. Funny enough, I was almost freaking out because it was so sudden. It took a couple of hours and then "Boom." They went upstairs to discuss it then came back down and told me. The studio looked like a space ship. The Decca Record Company offered them the studio due to their outstanding history. They were very nice.
R.V.B. - Now on the record "Long Distance Voyager" I noticed they were experimenting with a drum machine. Did Graeme play on the record also?
P.M. - Yes, they were experimenting with a drum machine at the time, because it was brand new technology. But of course, Graeme played the drums! We had been to Los Angeles in 1979 to commence working on some of the songs that were to be on “Long Distance Voyager.” That's where I came up with the riff for 22,000 Days. I had done three tours with them already. We had six weeks rehearsal prior to the first tour and in 78 and 79 I was a session player and I was treated very well. Although I had to go to Brazil and play in Sao Paulo during one of the weekends, I was able to take the Concord which took only six hours and a half from Paris, so I could be back to the London rehearsals without missing a beat. I had always played with some of the very best percussionists in the world. I had been to Africa, playing and doing a lot of research on rhythm and percussion. During the time of the early 80's the technology was changing and advancing and there were some new drum machines, which in some instances could enhance recordings. Graeme embraced the idea to use a Linn Drum Machine in some instances. We had a very good producer, Pip Williams and a very good engineer, Gregg Jackman, who is the brother of Andrew Jackman, who was the orchestrator of "Fish out of Water" by Chris Squire.
R.V.B. - It's a small world.
P.M. - It's a small world, indeed.
Now, I have another little story for you : When I was 13, I broke my arm skiing in January. Six weeks later around Easter, they took the plaster off and some of my friends and my family offered me a pair of roller skates. My friends came with some skates and two bikes and said we're going to pull you on our bikes. Our streets were very flat but there were some trees here and there. At one point I had to make a decision whether to go right or left. I went straight into a tree and broke four of my fingers! I had to get a cast on my hand. It took six months to repair my fingers. My teachers told me "Patrick, You'll never play classical music again.
R.V.B. - Was that on the same arm that you broke?
R.V.B. - Was that the left or the right hand?
P.M. - That was my right hand. Instead of getting discouraged, I continued on and was able to compose my own music. I trained my left hand to play classical music. I was able to play the Ravel concerto for the left hand in G. I became ambidextrous. I can play as well with my left hand as I can with my right.
In regards to “Long Distance Voyager”, we had a very good empathy during the recording. I was actually contracted for 16 weeks. It took quite a bit longer, sixty-five weeks! On the song “Talking out of Turn” (Composed by John Lodge), my keyboard arrangement was transcribed by our producer Pip Williams for a mini-symphony orchestra. The orchestra was composed of various musicians from different ensembles which, for the credits on LDV was named "New World Philharmonic Orchestra“. That was actually the ONLY time that they used an orchestra in addition to my keyboards on any of the album recordings during the 13 years I was with them! It was at that time that they asked me whether I wanted to be credited as the “arranger”, or to become a member of the band. Evidently, I answered that I wanted to become an official member of The Moody Blues. I arranged and played all of my own parts and orchestrations on my own keyboards including that famous "Sample and Hold" sound at the beginning of the song. I played it on the PolyMoog that Bob Moog dedicated to me 5 years earlier for my first solo record. I contributed to a lot of the songs with my orchestral melodies and themes, and keyboard arrangements! I really enjoyed every album and concert that I did with The Moodies.
R.V.B. - Long Distance Voyager was an incredible comeback album. That put them right back where they left off before taking a break. It received major radio play.
P.M. - Absolutely, yes. It did sell several million copies.
I did record a few albums in 1979 at my studio in Geneva just prior to Long Distance Voyager. One was "Future Memories Live on TV“. I did it in 2 days. I recorded the piano in the morning. I recorded several keyboards in the afternoon. Three more movements the next day, for a suite of 18 minutes on 29 keyboards, and sound devices.The album was out three days later in Switzerland. The TV program was broadcast the same night. There was no re-mixing, nor editing. I did another “Future Memories II” three years later.
I have just recovered all of my solo albums, 18 of them. I'm going to be distributing them out of my studio here. I have also been re-building my whole array of keyboards. I still have the original ones, like my first ever mini-moog which I got in 1972. That's the one that's pictured on the inner sleeve of the new "Relayer" CD. It was re-mastered by Steven Wilson and he did a fantastic job!
Getting back to “Long Distance Voyager“, we really enjoyed working together. When Justin played the song "The Voice”, I did my main keyboard lines and themes in one take. I overdubbed what was needed eventually, to add more color but that sound of the Moog and the instrumental melody for that song at that session came in a “one-&-only-take! Everybody applauded when I finished the recording that afternoon.
R.V.B. - That's the sign of a pro.
P.M. - The melodic riff of 22,000 Days, I wrote originally in C Major. On the record it's in A minor. It's actually the melody of Children's Concerto which I composed. I recorded that later on in 1983 with Bill Bruford. Once you are ensconced in the music, it eventually all comes together. I personally enjoyed my stay with The Moodies immensely in every way, whether it was in the studio recording LDV, The Other Side of Life, The Present, Sur La Mer, and even for some songs of Keys of the Kingdom as well as the many concerts that I've played with them.
R.V.B. - I gather you toured the States and all over the world with The Moodies also?
P.M. - All over the world to a certain extent. We traveled to many countries. It was fantastic! We went to Australia together. At the time I had to make a big decision. The second time we went to Australia I had just finished working on a score on a movie called "The Stepfather." They were still shooting some scenes when I was asked to join Joel Silver and John McTiernan to shoot the first “Predator” movie in Mexico. I had done a temporary score for that and they liked it so much, they wanted me to do the whole score of the movie. There were some delays and eventually I had to choose at the end of 86, between staying with The Moodies, which I did because we were going to Australia or doing the music for “Predator”. I was a member of the band and that was my duty. If I had chosen to do the score for Predator for McTiernan I could have done all the “Die Hard“ movies.
R.V.B. - It's all hindsight. You can't dwell on the fact that you made a decision. You made the right decision to make.
R.V.B. - You probably would have made a ton of cash also.
P.M. - I regretted the separation of The Moodies and myself. It came as a shock.
R.V.B. - Let me ask you something about your Brazilian outfit. How did you enjoy playing with them in Brazil?
P.M.- I had already been versed in the world type of music when we went to the Far East. At the end of the second tour with Yes in 75, which had started in mid May in Sheperd's Bush at Queens Park Ranger Stadium and finished in July. I decided to go with my engineer to Brazil but we went around to a lot of the countries of South America first. We stopped in Columbia, Peru, Chili, Argentina and then to Brazil. I didn't go to Uruguay or Paraguay at that time, although I visited both countries later. I was doing a lot of interviews in those countries. When I arrived in Brazil, I had a concept of what I wanted to do with "I". "The story of I" is entirely my idea. The idea came to me during my stay in Nashville on tour with Yes. When I was in Brazil, I knew Brazilian music pretty well and I knew I wanted a large band of percussionist's... 2 surdos, 3 panderios, a 2 note agogo, etc. and I wanted the best cuica player. There was also a guy in his late 80's who played old traditional instruments. He was smoking on his chops. We had three very good days of sessions. I brought back about 25 tapes. We recorded most of the sessions on 8 tracks, which I then transferred to 24 track in Geneva. When the two drummers, Alphonse Mouzon and Andy Newmark heard the percussion, they were absolutely knocked out. The fantastic bass-playerJeff Berlin was on the project and I think it was his first professional gig, right out of the Berklee School of Music. He was only 21 or 22 at the time. Ray Gomez was on the album and he is a genius. I believe he lives in New York. He commutes between Spain and New York. At the time I had known him from England. He was himself, part of a band, under the wings of Yes.
R.V.B. - Do you think that, with all the experience that you have and all of the different music that you have done, it all melds into the MAP Project?
P.M. - Oh Absolutely. MAP is not really a solo album of mine. MAP means “Moraz Alban Project”. I composed all of these pieces with the drummer, Greg Alban, in mind and his style of drumming. Compared to some of the other music I have done, MAP is less complex. There are basic themes and you can feel some of my jazz roots and influences. There are different approaches to the project such as there is not a bass player on every track. "Jungle Aliens" is only Keyboards and Drums.
R.V.B. - When you listen to it casually, it was mixed so well that it was hard to tell if you were doing the bass with your left hand or the bass player was doing it. I read the liner notes and I saw that around four of the tracks were just the two of you.
P.M. - Right, but on the other hand, on the track called "Alien Intelligence" John Avila plays the bass, but in the middle there is a bass solo and that's me. It's only a short featured part. When I did that, I didn't even know that Chris Squire was ill, but I was thinking very much what Chris Squire would have done in that part. It's a very melodic and difficult passage. I would like to offer this as a tribute to his memory. He has had an unbelievable musical influence on me as a musician and of course a million other bass players.
R.V.B. - He was an incredible musician and it's very nice that you say those things.
P.M. - In the song before that "The Real Feel", there is another very short bass run that I did and I'm very proud of. Originally I played the bass on all of those tracks and we replaced them with John Avila's bass. We kept a few little pieces. It's interesting, because it really gels with the rest of the track. It's not only called "The Real Feel" but it's the real feel between us players. There are very few notes in the song. The melody is made by the chords of the song. The drums are very simple as well as the bass, but the timing is almost in 4/4. Sometimes there's a bar of 5 and sometimes there's a big break of silence that happens, totally impromptu. That's what I like about it. It is unexpected. There was an economy of notes but a real strong feeling playing together.
R.V.B. - It's a real great package of songs. Thank you very much for taking this time with me, I appreciate the in depth answers.
P.M. - Thank you so much for sharing interest in our MAP project. I really enjoyed the interview very much.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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