Jazz pianist Jason Moran has occupied numerous spaces in his esteemed career: bandleader, film-scorer, visual arts, MacArthur fellow and Kennedy Center Artistic Director. Yet the area which showcases his most lucid gift is illuminated in his performance. Like a painter with a fresh canvas, Moran uses his piano to illustrate colors, moods and ideas at the whim of his creativity. His third solo piano release is no exception.
Recorded over two days in January 2021, The Sound Will Tell You is another provocative work in Moran's repertoire that's steeped in jazz, blues and modern classical music. Possibly an introspection of the year 2020's many challengesfrom a global pandemic which affected millions of lives to social, economic and political unrestthe music evokes the somber experiences of that time while also looking forward with optimism and verve.
Each track seems inextricably tied to some human condition via Moran's stylistic compositions. The sparkling syncopation in "Follow the Light" is uplifting and hopeful or the tender "For Love" which pulls at the heartstrings as the piano explores the gentle melody or a distant memory is implied in "My Mother's Handful of Tea." While jazz is Moran's muse he splashes in blues and gospel colors in the soulful "Dawns after the Dream" and the reworking of "Body and Soul" from his first solo piano recording Modernistic(Blue Note, 2002).
The recording's sound production is another factor that adds to the listening experience denoted by a number of tracks subtitled by "tear," "honey" or "shadow" which incorporate an effect dubbed "DRIP," a filter which adds depth to Moran's brilliant playing. Its use is subtle in the serene "Spoken in Two" yet pronounced in the memorable "Toni Morrison said Black is a Rainbow" inspired by the late author's celebrated 1997 novel Song of Solomon.
The Sound Will Tell You finds Moran still at the top of his game and as usual he avoids easy paths. It's enjoyable enough for a casual listen and yields rewards with deeper excavations.
Follow the Light; Spoken in Two (Tear); For Love; My Mother's Handful of Tea; Only the
Shadow Knows (Honey); Body & Soul with Intimate Friends (Shadow);Dawns after the
Dream; Bee Mantra (Honey); How much more terrible was the Night; The only morning
coming (Tear); Hum then Sing then Speak; Toni Morrison said Black is a Rainbow