Moroni was born and raised in Genoa, Italy, and took to jazz early. “My parents bought a piano for my sister, but she didn’t show a lot of interest in it. When I came along, I was immediately taken with it from the age of three. My father was always playing jazz records in the house – people like Earl Hines, Fats Waller and Count Basie. I fell in love with those records, and started trying to imitate them on the piano. My mother, who played accordion, saw how interested I was in the instrument, and put me on her lap to explain the difference between major and minor chords. And that was the beginning!”
Originally self-taught, Moroni would heed the advice of a family friend and study piano formally, eventually gigging with local Italian, as well visiting American musicians. Unsure he’d be able to mount a successful career in music, Moroni actually enrolled in law school. But a chance encounter accompanying famed bebop trumpet pioneer Dizzy Gillespie would forever alter Moroni’s musical path, with the elder jazz statesman telling him, ‘Man, there are too many lawyers out there. You should play piano!’ “That was the turning point,” Moroni says. “I decided right there that I could make a living doing what I loved to do. So I took him seriously, and quit law school!”
Moroni’s love for the jazz language is evident across all seven tracks of Live in Beverly Hills. The album opens with Moroni’s fierce left-hand anchoring a sea of buoyant band interplay on his own “Ghanian Village,” complete with Kenny Barron-esque piano proddings that recall the elder pianist’s rhythmic renegade. “If I’m playing a song and I hear a sound that makes me think of someone like Kenny Barron, who I love and is one of my dearest friends, I say hello to him in the music,” Moroni says. Other infectious album cuts include a metrically-modulating romp through famed Modern Jazz Quartet pianist John Lewis’ “Django,” as well as a Bossa Nova-infused take on “Where Is Love?” from the musical Oliver!
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