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Let's just cut to the chase. Jazz pianist Jason Moran has the goods. And more importantly, he has his own set of goods. His voice is unique among an onslaught of talented pianists. Exhilarating, challenging, and animated, are just a view of the ways to describe Moran's delivery. A student of the late Jaki Byard, his influences are as diverse as his abilities. His past releases and collaborations with Greg Osby have revealed comps and solos that were clearly beyond the standard jazz repertoire.
One of Blue Notes' young luminaries, he carries forth the strong tradition of jazz greats and helps to redefine the vision of where jazz is going. His last recording Black Stars was a collaboration with elder jazz visionary Sam Rivers and was listed among the top picks of 2001. Modernistic is the next chapter of an artist whose work will be documented in the years to come.
Modernistic is Moran's first solo recording and it is truly dynamic. The talented pianist explores the unique intricacies of performing solo successfully. One might think that a solo piano recording might veer into either mundane or spastic territories; but not in the hands of Moran. The music is melodic, funky, playful, and contemplative, but never ordinary. Take for instance the boldness and skill to reinvent Africa Bambataa's party jam "Planet Rock , which plays out like some neoclassical funk piece, or the title opener "You've Got To Be Modernistic which showcases incredible range and chops that are at his disposal. With complexity and vision, his own compositions continue to reveal a true composer with two selections in his ongoing "Gangsterism series.
Moran plays with percussive energy on "Time Into Space Into Time with its undulating runs and time changes, whereas "Body and Soul is simplistically beautiful. His work with the mini-piano on selection "Moran Tonk Circa 1935 is like going into a time warp, which lands in a ragtime brothel. The lovely "Gentle Shifts South concludes the recording with a pastoral mood that is sure to linger. All in all, Modernistic is an enjoyable and rewarding recording from one of today's brightest musicians.
Track Listing: 1. You've Got to Be Modernistic 2. Body and Soul 3.Planet Rock
4. Planet Rock Postscript 5. Time into Space into Time
6. Gansterism on Irons 7. Moran Tonk Circa 1935
8. Passion 9. Gangsterism on a Lunchtable
10. Auf Einer Burg/In a Fortress 11. Gentle Shifts South
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.