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Jason Moran, Pianist
Jason Moran made his professional recording debut on Greg 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, musicians such as 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, Eric 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 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. Gary Giddins of the Village Voice exclaimed "Black Stars is possibly a Blue Note benchmark, definitely one of the year’s outstanding discs."
Moran has performed as a sideman with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, Lee Konitz, Von Freeman, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. He was the youngest honoree of the New Work Commission by the San Francisco Jazz Festival. He was also awarded a grant from Chamber Music America’s "New Works: Creation and Presentation" program, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. For these two grants Moran used sampled conversations as vocal triggers. These compositions would be the foundation for many of Moran’s new compositions. Jazziz magazine wrote “Moran is blessed with the courage of his own convictions—part scavenger and part seer, fluent in the cut/paste/splice devices of hip hop production....”
In 2002, Moran released his universally acclaimed solo piano disc Modernistic. The Cork Jazz Festival awarded Moran the 2002 Guiness Rising Star Award. 2003’s The Bandwagon, culled from the trio’s six-day stint at New York’s Village Vanguard, earned the team of Moran-Mateen-Waits a title as "the best new rhythm section in jazz" (The New York Times) and caused Rolling Stone to proclaim Moran "the most provocative thinker in current jazz."
Moran's sixth release on Blue Note, Same Mother, was released in February '05. This blues based recording adds guitarist, Marvin Sewell, to the Bandwagon. Same Mother is "a reconsideration of the blues that doesn't depend on clichéd dynamics and song structure' (The New York Times).
He has composed and performed extended works commissioned by New York City's Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Dia: Beacon in Beacon, New York. Duke University, Town Hall and Harlem Stages presented an ambitious multimedia work by Moran based on Thelonious Monk's historic 1959 concert at Town Hall in New York City, and rehearsal tapes and photographs taken that year by W. Eugene Smith.