September 26th, 2008
I photographed Jason Moran in 2006 during the Earshot Jazz Festival and this was the image used on the poster to promote the 2007 Festival when he returned to play again with his group Bandwagon.
Earshot Jazz described him like this:
Now one of the most prominent talents in jazz, the pianist Jason Moran draws top-notch commissions, infuses his compositions
with theatrical charisma, and carries off a memorable performance in Seattle every time.
Earlier this year, Blue Note released Moran’s Artist in Residence. Like so much of Moran’s growing canon, the album capitalizes expertly on his fascination with pre-recorded materials, his mind for composition, and his technical bravado at the piano. It compiles a series of commissioned
works – MILESTONE, for Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center; The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, for the Dia Art Foundation; and RAIN, which premiered at Rose Hall (Jazz at Lincoln Center) and was written for Bandwagon, Moran’s staple trio with bassist Taurus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits.
In 2003, Bandwagon released its self-titled live album. Recorded at the Village Vanguard and including interpretations of such surprising songs as hip-hop godfather
Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” and Brahms’s “Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2,” the release helped Moran’s already growing profile swell even further.
A native of Houston, TX, the 32-year-old Moran has played with contemporary talents like Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Stefan Harris, and Sam Rivers, but his star continues to rise thanks primarily to the propulsion of his work as a bandleader and composer. In this capacity Moran also remains a voracious
re-interpreter, finding deep wells of inspiration in stride maestro James P. Johnson, Icelandic dynamo Björk, and 20th-century classical giants Prokofiev and Ravel.
Fittingly, this unpredictable innovator spurs surprising accolades. In 2005, for example, he was awarded Playboy Magazine’s
first “Jazz Artist of the Year” nod. But with Jason Moran, the facts simply can’t encapsulate the energy fuelling the prolific fount of music within the man. Luckily, the Triple Door offers an ideal setting in which to hear this creative maelstrom before his inevitable place in the jazz pantheon assures an end to such intimate performances.