Originally from Houston, Texas, Mike Moreno began studying music formally at the Houston High School for Performing and Visual Arts, a school renowned for its musical alumni including Jason Moran, Robert Glasper, Kendrick Scott, Eric Harland, and James Francies, amongst many others. After graduating he moved to New York to attend the New School University on scholarship.
Over the years Moreno has built a name as one of the leading voices on his instrument, touring the world performing with bands led by Joshua Redman, Stefon Harris, Lizz Wright, Nicholas Payton, Me’Shell N’Degeocello, Jason Moran, James Francies, Robert Glasper, Gretchen Parlato, Aaron Parks, and Terence Blanchard.
With his own projects, Moreno has toured and recorded his original music with high critical acclaim. Nate Chinen in Jazz Times magazine describes “There are many other guitarists out there pushing towards a modern ideal, but none with the precise coordinates that Mike Moreno has charted.”
In 2007, Moreno released his debut recording as a leader, Between The Lines, which Nate Chinen deemed in The New York Times as one of his Top 10 Jazz albums of 2007. He recorded his second and third albums, Third Wish (2008) and First In Mind (2011) for iconic European jazz label, Criss-Cross. Mike returned to producing his records on his own for Another Way (2012), which was chosen by iTunes for the Best of 2012 list, and Lotus (2016) was next. Moreno returned to Criss Cross Records for a trio recording in 2018, 3 for 3, and again for his most recent album, Standards From Film (2022).
Standards From Film is a quartet album with its roots in a project Moreno started on Instagram, before Covid lockdowns, that turned into a 14 week online Zoom course. Its first two editions were presented during summer lockdowns in 2020. Each class focused on one iconic jazz standard from a Hollywood film. The album features 10 of those songs spanning 30 years, 1932-1962, giving a tip of the hat to the original feeling of the films they were in.
Besides touring and recording albums, Moreno has been a part of two major soundtracks for film and Netflix. The 2015 Don Cheadle-directed Miles Davis film with music by Robert Glasper, Miles Ahead, and most recently, Netflix’s 2022 Series, Mo, with music produced by legendary Rap artist, Common. Mo is the self-portrayed life story of Houston comedian, Mo Amer, loosely based on real life events of Amer’s immigration to the United States, living in Houston as a refugee of the Kuwait Gulf War.
As an educator, Moreno is currently a faculty member at New York’s prestigious Manhattan School Of Music as well as Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.