Last spring at SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, Jason Moran and his Bandwagon (with guitarist Jeff Parker) played as Bay Area skateboarders rode a mid-sized half-pipe situated in front of the stage. The interactive jam session proved so popular that they’ll be doing it again this year. Recently in his studio, Moran took a break to talk about the process and aesthetic of the skateboarding collaboration, the conceptualization of what a jazz performance can be, and what he’s working on now.
2010 MacArthur "Genius" grant recipient Jason Moran has been doing really interesting things in music and art for years, he's just getting more attention for it lately. Now a pair of filmmakers, Gregg Conde and Radiclani Clytus, have been capturing much of the work Moran has been endeavoring for a documentary about Moran's bridging the gap between the jazz of times past and the popular music of the present. The documentary, Grammar, is still in relatively early stages but judging from the look of this excerpt, it would look like Moran isn't spiraling out of control in some fantastical Synecdoche, New York-type fashion. This thing looks pretty great, certainly worthy of support that the pair's Kickstarter campaign is asking for. If you want to see more of than and you're able to give, you probably should.
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After digesting the phenomenon which is Jason Moran, his eminence in music is even more mind-blowing once you consider the fact that he is just 37 years old. In addition to receiving just about every award, acknowledgement and accolade within the jazz spectrum, he is also recipient of the 2010 MacArthur fellowship, and has just recently filled the imperial shoes of the late Dr. Billy Taylor as the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz. Leading one of the most relevant and longstanding piano trios of our time, Moran has also performed and recorded with contemporary and legendary artists like Greg Osby, Cassandra Wilson, Steve Coleman, Sam Rivers, and Charles Lloyd. He’s a special guest on drummer Jack DeJohnette’s new release, Sound Travels-- a stellar album with an array of artistic powerhouses like Bobby McFerrin, Esperanza Spalding, Lionel Loueke, and fellow Manhattan School alum, Ambrose Akinmusire. (Moran also produced Akinmusire’s critically-acclaimed Blue Note debut, When The Heart Emerges Glistening.)
His impressive resume aside, Moran’s influence as a pianist and composer is tremendous. The Houston native’s love for the visual arts has led to endeavors well beyond the mere “unexpected”. It was a no-brainer for me to implore Mr. Moran’s participation for this project; a special opportunity to explore the mind of the man who is, as Rolling Stone magazine puts it, “shaping up to be the most provocative thinker in current jazz.”