Raw Materials/Jason Moran and the Bandwagon

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Wednesday June 08, 2011


Raw Materials/Jason Moran and the Bandwagon
By Jessica Nicholas

TWO of the most formidable and innovative pianists in jazz shared a remarkable double bill at the Forum on Wednesday. Vijay Iyer had already demonstrated his unconventional approach in a solo concert earlier in the festival; this time he appeared in a duo setting (Raw Materials) with alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.

Iyer’s use of frequent dynamic shifts was amplified by Mahanthappa’s presence, the pair veering between spikily intense dialogues, razor-sharp unison lines and pools of shadowy lyricism. Despite the extraordinary discipline demanded by their intricate compositions, the duo’s instinctive rapport allowed the music to flow as organically as waves in a restless sea.

Unpredictability was also a key element of Jason Moran and the Bandwagon’s wildly creative set. With characteristic fearlessness, Moran opted to begin each tune with an amplified backing track – from Billie Holiday to Afrika Bambaataa – over which the trio played. Like a skewed version of karaoke in reverse, it was a potent reminder that Moran is constantly pushing at the edges of jazz to see how far he can stretch it.

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