Jason Moran – The Bandwagon

Jason MoranJason Moran
The Bandwagon
(Rounder – 2003)
by John Thompson

Hello, hope all is well with you. This cd is not recommended for the faint-of-heart. Smooth Jazzers, STAY AWAY!!

Texas-born pianist Jason Moran presents us with another artistic avant-styled adventure. This release is a free form journey that is full of fresh ideas, sure to challenge every listener. Featuring Nasheet Waits (D) and Taruss Mateen (B) this trio has to be one of the most eccentric around the major jazz scene. Having played with, among others, Greg Osby, it is fitting that the boundaries of jazz are going to be stretched. How expanded the boundaries are here.

Recorded live at The Village Vanguard, the tunes display wide ranges of sound and idea. Eclecticism rears its head, from Moran’s performance of Johannes Brahms'”Intermezzo, op.118, no.2,” to his version of the 198o’s Soul Sonic Force’s “Planet Rock.” Towards tradition, we are treated to “Out Front” and “Gansterism On Stages.” The cover of “Body And Soul” is performed with a 4/4 feel compared to the standard 2/4 feel. You will have to hang on for “Ringing My Phone” and “Infospace,” as Moran plays note for note to a phone conversation of a Turkish female. My favorite, which reminds me of some of conversations with my relatives (Roots) in southern Maryland and Alabama, “Gentle Shifts South,” has Moran playing solo piano while (according to the liner notes) a taped conversation with his grandparents seems to describe family members.

The most impressive aspect of this cd is the musicianship. To be committed to such a cause, music or otherwise, is highly admirable. 4-1/2 stars.