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Live Reviews

Jason Moran Returns to Monk at Town Hall

By Published: March 12, 2009
"Little Rootie Tootie" and "Off Minor," the concert's next two songs, followed in the same spirit, utilizing the horns to great effect and maintaining a focus on the personal. Monk's voice emerged again while the band played "Off Minor," repeating the phrase "in my mind" over and over as a kind of DJ'ed mantra, before moving into Monk's discussion of his sparse arrangement for "Crepescule with Nellie," both concerts' final number.

Moran's "Crepescule with Nellie" deliberately broke with Monk's minimalist precedent. Monk never soloed over "Crepescule," honoring the melody with faithful repetition, while Moran offered the song as an impression, barely hinting at the melody. Yet Moran's interpretation of "Crepescule" managed to sound Monkish even as he played almost none of Monk's notes. As inimitable as his music was, it's doubtful any other jazz composer has ever matched Monk's ability to craft pieces that are at once so malleable, allowing for infinite reworkings and reimaginings, and so unshakably personal. Throughout the concert, Moran investigated that unalterable strain of Monk DNA—demonstrating its strength in his varied approaches to Monk's compositions, searching for its roots in Monk's history and voice, and ultimately celebrating its power as the Big Bandwagon descended from the stage and marched towards Town Hall's lobby as an ecstatic encore.

Photo Credit

Duke Performances

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