The first of our articles with this principal multikeyboard player gives you his background as a solo performer as well as his work with Yes and The Moody Blues.
Swiss-born, English-based and transcultural in outlook, Patrick Moraz became well known for his multi-keyboard work with Yes and The Moody Blues.
Now as a solo performer of his own 'instant compositions' and soundtrack composer for over thirty films, he has several albums on his own Future Memories label.
This short article introduces Patrick Moraz and gives you a transcription of one of his pieces to play. He'll be giving his own points of view about his work with the Moody Blues and his latest Future Memories and Coexistence LP's next month.
Patrick Moraz was born in 1948 in Switzerland, a country, he says, with no musical background. His early influences, then, had to be drawn from other countries, from the ethnic music of Brazil, the folk music of France and from American jazz.
His early attempts to fuse these influences, with L'Orchestre Patrick Moraz, Integral Aim, Main Horse Airline and the Latin Rock Trio, met with mixed success, and Patrick saw that Switzerland held little for him. It was in Switzerland, however, that he first met the members of British rock super-group Yes, although the future significance of this meeting wasn't appreciated at the time.
Patrick then teamed up with bassist Lee Jackson and drummer Brian Davidson, who had previously formed the other two-thirds of Keith Emerson's trio, The Nice. His keyboard style may have lacked Emerson's showmanship, but its pure technique began to bring the band to the attention of the record-buying public; an LP was cut under the name Refugee, and Patrick's multi-keyboard style and wide range of influences began to become established.
With Refugee Patrick played a Hammond C-3 organ, two Minimoogs, a Fender Rhodes piano, Clavinet, piano and Mellotron. Very few musicians were using larger set-ups at the time, with the exception of Keith Emerson with ELP and Rick Wakeman with Yes. Having stepped into Emerson's shoes once, fate seemed to dictate that Patrick should now step into Wakeman's; in 1974, his opportunity came.
With the surprise news that Wakeman was to leave Yes to pursue a solo career, Patrick became what was seen as a rather exotic replacement. His classical training and experience of multi-keyboards made him ideal for the job, but fears that he could not fit in with the Yes 'sound' persisted until the release of the seminal 'Relayer' album.
On 'Relayer' Patrick's keyboards, and particularly his use of the grandiose Mellotron, blend and layer perfectly with Jon Anderson's voice, and the album became one of the band's greatest artistic successes. Patrick still had his own ideas to express, however, and his first solo album "The Story of I" re-introduced his use of exotic South American percussion and wind instruments.
As a result of his solo albums and work with Yes, Patrick was offered the occasional keyboard seat with The Moody Blues, a job which allowed him time to continue working on his own projects. The Moody Blues in their original incarnation relied heavily on the Mellotron to simulate whole string sections and orchestras, and Patrick now used the updated Novatron single and dual manual instruments to preserve some sense of continuity, while at the same time producing a new futuristic feel on albums like 'Long Distance Voyager' using his Yamaha, Oberheim and Roland Synthesisers.
Patrick has also been able to establish his own studio in Geneva and set up a label, Future Memories, for his solo albums. Recently he has collaborated with a Rumanian panpipe player, Syrinx, on the 'Coexistence' album, and is now working on his second 'Future Memories' album of live multi-keyboard improvisations.