Jason Moran: Black Stars

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No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Jason Moran has hit the mark every time out. The adventurous pianist creates suite-like musical portraits that, in the end, will affect the growth of modern mainstream jazz. For his third album as leader, Moran has enlisted saxophonist Sam Rivers. As like-minded improvisers, the four artists drive with considerable force. What makes it work so well is that they share a common approach. Each of the quartet's members supplies a portion of the improvised music that fits that of the others quite well. Hence, they're helping each other with every effort. Moran has a wide range of dynamic values. From dark and quiet, to bright and loud, the pianist makes changes in the directions that each piece will travel. Rivers is at his best. His fluid tenor saxophone articulation makes for ease of movement. Moran's originals portray various themes; at times the music swings. Compositions by Duke Ellington, Jaki Byard and saxophonist Rivers fill out the remainder of the program. Creative music can scare traditional listeners away. When rhythms become complex and harmonies turn free, the music can sometimes lose its friendliness. Jason Moran's program retains just enough comfort, while unleashing complex ideas suitable for both the intellectual collector and the casual listener.

Track Listing: Foot Under Foot; Kinda Dukish; Gangsterism on a River; Earth Song; Summit; Say Peace; Draw the Light Out; Out Front; The Sun at Midnight; Skitter In; Sound It Out.

Personnel: Jason Moran- piano; Sam Rivers- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piano intro on "Sound It Out;" Tarus Mateen- bass; Nasheet Waits- drums.

Record Label: Blue Note Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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