Since his formidable emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, jazz pianist Jason Moran has proven more than his brilliance as a performer. The Blue Note Records recording artist has established himself as a risk-taker and innovator of new directions for jazz as a whole.
In almost every category that matters—improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and experimentation—Moran, and his group The Bandwagon— with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits— have challenged the status quo, and earned the reputation as "the future of jazz."
Frequently influenced by the wider world of art as his muse, Moran has found inspiration in edgy 20th century painters like Jean-Michel Basquiat (check out "JAMO Meets SAMO" from Soundtrack to Human Motion, as well as his ongoing series of "Gangsterism" compositions); Egon Schiele (whose painting "Facing Left" provided the eponymous title to Moran's second album); and Robert Rauschenberg, whose chaotic refinement inspired Moran's third album Black Stars, featuring the legendary Sam Rivers.
Moran is currently preparing for the release of TEN, his 10th anniversary album with The Bandwagon, on June 22, 2010. The trailblazing trio has proven to be one of the most enduring and creative piano trios in jazz today. TEN represents their most assured and focused album to date.
Moran's debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, was released in 1999 to great critical praise. Ben Ratliff of The New York Times named it the best album of the year and the Jazz Journalists Association awarded it "Best Debut Recording." The following year, Facing Left, established The Bandwagon trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and prompted JazzTimes Magazine 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 2000's outstanding discs."
In 2002, Moran released his universally acclaimed solo piano disc Modernistic, prompting the Cork (Ireland) Jazz Festival to award him the 2002 Guinness Rising Star Award. Preeminent jazz critic Gary Giddins proclaimed it "a benchmark achievement and a profound illustration of his capacity to combine classicism and maverick innovation."
2003's release 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! —NY Times." The Jazz Journalists Association awarded Moran with the "Up-n-Coming Jazz Musician" of 2003. Moran topped The Downbeat Critics Poll in three categories in 2003 and 2004—Rising Star Jazz Artist, Rising Star Pianist, Rising Star Composer.