By LaRhonda Boone
Many artists will tell you that their music comes alive, that their songs are made from what is around them or from their stories of pain, triumph, fears, and all of the intricacies life has to offer. Jason Moran, on the other hand, need not say anything because it is clearly expressed through his artistry on the piano.
With classical jazz roots and classical musical influences, Moran is well known for often beckoning the old to create anew and in so doing, brings careful analysis to his bright and refreshingly inspired sounds. Moran’s body of work beginning with his debut album, “Soundtrack to Human Emotion” in 1999 is quite extensive and as the Artistic Adviser of Jazz for the renowned Kennedy Center in Washington DC, his most recent album (2014) “All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller” was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. He also composed the music for the recent film, “SELMA”, marking his debut into yet another art form. He has performed with his trio, “The Bandwagon” for several years but has ventured out on his own for solo projects as well.
A man of infusion, Jason Moran brings his piano to life where it darts about, sometimes menacingly so, on his take of Fats Waller’s “Handful of Keys,” and then can later be hauntingly filled with an overwhelming sadness at its lover’s rejection on the jazz standard, “Body and Soul”. It is clear that Moran is not only a teacher, but a lifelong student of music. His talent and prolific approach has made him one of the most all-encompassing artists of his time.
Listen to “Body and Soul” as performed by Jason Moran “Live at the Tribes”. Some took issue with the piano tune (or lack thereof) but I found the bare-boned, raw quality an added plus: