Moraz Alban Project

Moraz Alban Project is a collaboration between the legendary keyboardist Patrick Moraz and the gifted drummer Greg Alban. Both musicians have cooperated in the past too but they never worked on a project on their own, until now. “MAP” is the first release of this project. Grande Rock had a chat with Greg so as to find out more info about this project and their next plans. Read for more below…
Moraz Alban Project photo

Hi Greg, I’m glad we have you on Grande Rock. Do tell us how did the idea for the Moraz Alban Project occur initially?
G: Thanks, The original idea was a project that was basically for me to play drums on with the material written by Patrick. The project kept evolving and after some time became a collaboration of Patrick and myself. I thought it would be best to have his name first because he’s a living legend and obviously a great composer and musician. Patrick came up with the title MAP, Moraz Alban Project and I immediately loved the name.
You have worked with Moraz in the past too (in his “Timecode” album), but you didn’t continue your cooperation afterwards, until now. Wasn’t the time right to do so in the past?
G: We’ve always been in close contact and we are very good friends. We’ve each been busy doing other projects. I was working with many other artists, which was fun but not really fulfilling. I really wanted to do my own project. I immediately thought of having Patrick write the material for my own project which later evolved into MAP.
Did you talk about the album’s music direction when you agreed with Moraz to do this project or you did what you felt like doing?
G: We talked about many aspects of the project but Patrick drew the map for MAP. That sounds funny but it’s true.
How did the recordings take place? Moraz started composing in Florida and then the whole “music project” moved to California to take its final shape? Please give us some more details.
G: Yes, that’s correct, Patrick wrote the material in Florida then we move the project to Total Access Recording Studios in Redondo Beach CA. Wyn Davis the owner and engineer of the studio was a big help, not only technically with the sound, but creatively as well. I can’t thank Wyn enough!
Do tell us a few things about the guest appearances of John Avila (ex-Oingo Bongo) on bass, Lenny Castro (Fleetwood Mac, Elton John) on percussion, Matt Malley (Counting Crows) on Indian Slide Guitar, Patrick Perrier on bass and Dave VanSuch on tenor saxophone.
G: John Avila and I played in my different bands together over the years and when Patrick and I thought of adding some bass guitar we immediately thought of John. Patrick then surprised me with the addition of Patrick Perrier on “Mumbai-Mantra”. When I first heard the track with Patrick Perrier playing bass I immediately knew that was perfect for the song. Lenny Castro has always been my favorite percussionist, so when it came up, he was my first choice. Matt Malley was a friend of Patrick’s and it was his suggestion to have him play slide sitar on “Mumbai-Mantra”. Great choice and it adds to the eastern flavor of the composition. Dave Van Such is an old college friend of mine who is a gifted multi instrumentalist. When I first heard “Canyon Afternoon” I thought that his sax playing would be perfect for the composition. Everything on this project was a joint decision. Patrick and I would each bring up new ideas and always mutually agree before anything was added or changed on the project.
If you could describe each track with a word (or a couple of words), what would you say?
G: “Jungle Aliens”: Heavy groove…
“Strictly Organic”: Sprint…
“Canyon Afternoon”: Big…
“Jazz in the Night”: Very complex and challenging & the last song I recorded the drums on.
“The Drums Also Solo”: Fun…
“The Real Feel”: Nice change…
“Alien Intelligence”: As Lenny Castro said, “that song is driving!”…
“Mumbai-Mantra”: One of my favorites…
“Alien Species”: Very Relaxing…
How would you describe the album’s music?
G: World Fusion…
Do you think that such thought-provoking instrumental albums such as “MAP” can easily be comprehended by a large audience or they address more specific audience?
G: I think MAP can reach a wide audience and also reach a more progressive audience. It depends on the listener. It’s like different people looking at a painting; that painting will have a different meaning to each person.
Did you have in mind to release the album independently or it just came along the way? Didn’t you talk with any labels at all?
G: We talked to several labels. With the way the music business has changed we thought we’d try independent, because of the freedom that it could provide.
Do you have plans to play the whole album or some tracks from the album live at some point?
G: We are talking about both of those ideas as well as planning some videos for MAP.
Will there be another Moraz Alban Project album and where will it move musically?
G: Yes, and where it will move would be a better question for Patrick.
Since you are a notable & gifted drummer, which are the top 3 drummers that any “potential” drummer must have as role models in order to expand his skills & mind?
G: That’s very difficult to narrow the list down to 3. I like to listen to Billy Cobham, Vinnie Colaiuta, Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones and Toney Williams and the list goes on and on!
What are your next music plans?
G: Practice, practice and practice…
Time for our “weird questions”!!! What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
G: I think it’s a problem and always has been a problem that musicians and all artists don’t get compensated properly.
Which is the most underrated musician of all time?
G: Richard Wilson
Which are the best 3 albums of all time according to you?
G: The Inner Mounting Flame” by John McLaughlin & The Mahavishnu Orchestra, “The Story of I” by Patrick Moraz & “Relayer” by Yes. That’s another tough question, too many great ones, the list goes on & on.
Best band/artist you have cooperated with to date?
G: That’s easy, Patrick Moraz
Fill in the phrase… “Drumming couldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…
G: The need for communication…
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
G: The Beatles greatest hits! There was magic to their song writing. They could come up with something simple and with a great melody that would appeal to a wide audience. Most bands would be lucky to have one of their hits.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
G: Ha Ha ! “MAP”, Moraz Alban Project…
If you could be any historical person, which one would you be and why?
G: Greg Alban, I like being me…
What would the world be like without religions… can you imagine?
G: I think John Lennon had that answer.
Is music a gift from the Gods as the ancient Hellenes used to believe?
G: It very well could be, I think it’s a very advanced form of communication.
I wanna thank you Greg for talking to Grande Rock. It’s incredible to converse with such prominent musicians like you. Thx for the music too… take care!
G: Thank you so much for having me! Take care & All the best!