“One of the most ear-catching piano trios working today. Moran tempts fate with every solo.” —Jazziz
A leading force in new jazz, composer-pianist
plays with an unmistakable sense of funk, fluidity, and freedom. He brings his group, the Bandwagon, to perform the world premiere of
on Friday-Saturday, May 20-21, at 8 pm in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Commissioned to help celebrate the opening months of the Walker’s new theater, this theatrical jazz suite was inspired by works from the Walker’s collection, in particular Adrian Piper’s The Mythic Being: I/You (Her).
Milestone will be informed by a disparate range of works by such artists as Louise Nevelson, Alice Neel, Jasper Johns, and Ellsworth Kelly. The central inspiration for Milestone emerged as Adrian Piper’s The Mythic Being: I/You/(Her) (1974). Moran’s fascination with this piece and his subsequent research of her life and writing led to the conception of a parallel creation, transferring Piper’s combination of the personal, political, and theatrical into the context of a jazz composition and concert form. Like Piper, he is striving to change the frame of his art form, designing a conceptual presentation style that upends notions of standard concerts and what aspects of a musician’s life are revealed during performance. In January 2005, the Walker assisted Moran in getting a meeting with the reclusive Piper, and she agreed to lend full support to the project, including use of her voice and writings.
Moran’s arresting, clean attack tempers jazz’s traditions with an innate understanding of hip-hop, pop, and new production technologies. His acclaimed group The Bandwagon—Nasheet Waits (drums) and Tarus Mateen (bass)—is joined by guests Marvin Sewell (guitar) and Alicia Hall (voice). Copresented with the Northrop Jazz Season. Commission supported by the William and Nadine McGuire Commission Fund.
This evening is made possible with generous support from Accenture.
Born in 1975 in Houston, Texas, Moran began studying the piano at age six, a reluctant student until he experienced the sounds of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, an e early role model in his creative development.
Moran went on to attend Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where he became an active member of the jazz program, playing in the big band and leading a jazz quartet. His aspirations and talents eventually led him to New York City where he continued his education at the Manhattan School of Music, drawn by the prospect of studying with pianist Jaki Byard, a jazz leftist who became Moran’s teacher for four years and a role model for life. It was during this time that Moran also took lessons from other forward-thinking pianists such as Muhal Richard Abrams and Andrew Hill, creative musicians who imparted a profound influence on Moran, and encouraged him to find his own distinct voice.
In 1997, while Moran was a senior in college, the drummer Eric Harland, a high school classmate, recommended him to saxophonist Greg Osby who was assembling a band for a European tour. Osby hired Moran based solely on Harland’s description of his playing, and the match proved to be auspicious. The connection between Osby and Moran was present as soon as they hit the bandstand, and Moran has become a fixture in Osby’s touring and recording bands ever since.
Moran made his professional recording debut on Osby’s 1997 Blue Note CD, Further Ado, which brought him to the attention of Blue Note executives who signed the pianist to his own record deal shortly thereafter. The association with Blue Note is fitting, placing Moran in the lineage of innovative pianist/composers whose career beginnings were nurtured by the veteran jazz label: Monk, Herbie Hancock and Herbie Nichols.
Moran’s debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, which found him in the company of Osby, Harland, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, was released in 1999 to great critical praise (Ben Ratliff of The New York Times named it the best album of the year). The following year’s Facing Left found Moran stripping down to a trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and prompted JazzTimes magazine to declare the album “an instant classic.” Moran augmented the trio for his third Blue Note release, Black Stars, adding avant-garde icon Sam Rivers, who plays saxophone, flute, and piano on the recording.
Moran has performed as a sideman with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. He was the youngest honoree of the San Francisco Jazz Festival Commission and he has been awarded a grant from Chamber Music America’s “New Works: Creation and Presentation” program, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Moran’s solo piano recording, Modernistic, was released in 2002. He released Same Mother earlier this year on Blue note.
Tickets to Jason Moran & The Bandwagon are $24 ($19.25 Walker members). Tickets available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.
The Walker Art Center’s Performing Arts Program is generously supported by funds from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation through the Doris Duke Fund for Jazz and Dance and the Doris Duke Performing Arts Endowment Fund. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
Gallery Talk with Jason Moran: Sounds like Adrian Piper
Thursday, May 19, 7 pm FREE
Join Jason Moran, vocalist Alicia Hall, and Walker Curator Betsy Carpenter for a discussion of Adrian Piper’s The Mythic Being; I/You(Her) _and other works that captured Moran’s imagination in the making of his new piece, _Milestone.