Morello/Francel/Faller: Living Is Easy, Mostly

uxvoiy-livingisea-preview-m3_550x550 Mulo Francel and Paulo Morello are no strangers to me. I reviewed Mulo’s album ‘Crossing Life Lines’ in September 2020 and Paulo was the teacher at a guitar workshop in Italy which I attended last fall. So it’s a pleasure for me to present their collaboration on this new album called ‘Living Is Easy, Mostly’. Mulo and Paulo together with Sven Faller on double bass recorded 14 original compositions especially written for this album.

The album was produced during the lockdown in 2021 and the trio took their time to write and arrange the songs. The music covers different styles and genres, from Bossa Nova, Samba to Foxtrot, Blues, Swing and Gypsy music. The instrumentation of this trio is also quite versatile, we hear acoustic and electric guitars, different saxophones and clarinet, which makes the album diversified and entertaining.

And I have to add another comment: The combination of guitar, double bass and saxophone (especially alto sax) or clarinet is from own experience a perfect combination, the instruments cover different ranges in frequency and create a full but transparent sound.

The album starts with ‘Just The Two Of Us Again’ a composition of Mulo Francel. He says of his composition: “I’ve always found it exciting to combine elements of tango, Latin jazz and Italian canzone with improvisation, which for me personally can border on the kitschy as well as the slightly weird.” Mulo plays the soprano saxophone and guitar and bass create a transparent rhythmic and harmonic layer for him.

In ‘Smalltown Girls’ we hear Paulo Morello on acoustic guitar and what I like here is Paulo relentlessly playing the background groove. I have experienced that he has so much fun in playing the guitar and so he doesn’t mind comping if it helps to create a good atmosphere.

‘One For Nieb’ is a homage to German guitar hero Helmut Nieberle who died in February 2020. In this virtuous song we hear Paulo Morello on his gypsy guitar.

With ‘Entre As Ondas’ we escape to an endless summer feeling with a cool and easy Bossa Nova. This fantastic composition is one of my highlights on this album.

‘Living Is Easy, Mostly’ the title song comes next. Another great composition with a pushing guitar and a moving bass.

‘One More Gin For Elizabeth’ is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth and her mother who are famous for their tendency to drink gin every day. A song that is inspired by afternoon drinks background music with Mulo Francel on clarinet.

The next song ‘Letter From The Heartland’ is a beautiful ballad., followed by ‘Chateau Plagne’ a Jazz waltz.

‘Tender Melody’ and ‘Oh Spring!’ are two easy and fluffy swinging tunes.  Best Kaffeehausmusik comes next with ‘Anna’, a regular waltz with Mulo Francel on clarinet.

‘SAD Blues’ is a homage to Sven Faller and his hometown Schwandorf in Northern Bavaria. Cars from this city have a license plate that starts with SAD. The trio plays this standard blues relaxed but with the necessary moving beat.

The album closes with ‘With The Poet In Italia’ an atmospheric song with Paulo Morello on classical guitar.

Paulo Morello, Mulo Francel and Sven Faller have produced a fantastic album, mixing various styles and sounds and their experience from countless concerts and recordings in different settings and from writing songs and arranging them for many years is obviously present in every song.

The result has style and taste, the trio manages the different genres virtuosic and it is a lot of fun to listen to their music.


Graham Dechter: Major Influence



A fantastic new album called ‘Major Influence’ has been released by Graham Dechter in September.  The guitarist wrote and arranged all but one of the tunes. “After completing seven originals and co-arranging the classic ‘Pure Imagination’ with Mr. Hamilton, I came to the realization that every song on this recording, whether consciously or subconsciously, was dedicated to and/or directly influenced by one or more of my musical heroes.”

He reunites with the dream team rhythm section of his first two albums: Tamir Hendelman on piano, John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums.

The album starts with ‘Orange Coals’, a bluesy composition which swings hard and features Graham Dechter and Tamir Hendelmann with excellent solos. What a start.

‘Reference’ is the next song, much softer but still moving with Jeff Hamilton using his brushes, the head is a nice dialog between guitar and piano on one side and bass on the other side, producing this killer sound when guitar and piano play in unison.

The album continues with the title song. ‘Major Influence’ is a melodic song with a beautiful melody and great melodic guitar and piano solos.

‘Moonithology’ comes next. This song swings nicely, again with excellent brush work by Jeff Hamilton on drums. This song gives John Clayton the chance to shine with a nice bass solo.

The album continues with ‘Minor Influence’, another hard swinging (minor) blues. This song is like the trademark of Graham Dechter, very straight and very bluesy. And, no surprise, we hear in my opinion the best guitar solo on the album. Outstanding.

In strong contrast comes the balladesque version of ‘Pure Imagination’. Jeff Hamilton is featured with a fantastic brush drums solo.

‘Bent on Monk’ is obviously inspired by Thelonious Monk and comes with a funky and chromatic melody. An entertaining tune in jam style with solos from all musicians.

The album ends with ‘Billy’s Dilemma’ a fast and artistic song giving this excellent musician and his band a final chance to impress us with their fast and precise playing.

Graham Dechter has deep roots in the tradition of guitar playing and his new album shows this in an outstanding way. All songs are played with great melodic ideas, swing hard and have this connection to the blues.

And here is the complete album on Spotify: