Jazz and blues have the same mother. They were the first recorded music styles that allowed black people to fully express themselves. And therein lies the heart of Jason Moran's latest album. Same Mother is a re-examination of the blues, not so much of its formal or harmonic elements, but rather its emotional and aesthetic constituents. Moran, a Texan, says that this album represents "a really slow, deliberate, emotionally direct approach to things," a Texas approach.
For Same Mother, Moran's notable Bandwagon trio adds the edgy, barbed wire guitar of Marvin Sewell, who sets out in unpredictable directions in his every appearance. On "Jump Up," he and Moran capture the raucous feel of a Texas roadhouse, even as they gleefully demolish the structural formalities of the music. On the other hand, Sewell brings his acoustic guitar to slower pieces such as "Field Of The Dead," imbuing them with stark lyricism.
But above all, Same Mother is a Jason Moran record, and Bandwagon, his trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, absolutely shines. Their consideration of swing, with sudden, turn-on-a-dime compression or alteration of tempo or time signature, comes to the fore on "G Suit Saltation." Even more remarkable is their version of Mal Waldron's "Fire Waltz," which, after a reflective 3/4 section, slams into a fast, charging 4/4 swing. The slow, deliberate aspects to which Moran refers emerge on ballad material such as "Field Of The Dead," as well as the gentle "Aubade," a thoroughly engaging composition co-written by Moran and his mentor Andrew Hill. On "I'll Play The Blues For You," the musicians seem to consider each note individually, as if weighing the consequences of each and every musical gesture.
Ever since his arrival on the scene in the mid-1990s, Jason Moran has been a unique voice. He brings a wide-ranging, very contemporary perspective to even the oldest materials, including the blues. Same Mother is a triumph.
Gangsterism on the Rise; Jump Up; Aubade; G Suit Saltation; I'll Play the Blues for You; Fire Waltz; Field of the Dead; Restin'; The Field; Gangsterism on the Set.