Jason Moran, Curator

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Sunday December 18, 2011

From A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

Jason Moran, Curator
By: Becca Pulliam

The 2011 edition of the annual holiday special A Jazz Piano Christmas is now playing on public radio stations and at NPR Music. One of this year’s performers was pianist Jason Moran ‘” making his first performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts after being named its artistic advisor for jazz. WBGO’s Becca Pulliam, who produces the program JazzSet, recently caught up with Moran via telephone to talk about his new job ‘” and combed through the JazzSet archives for Moran’s first Kennedy Center appearance.

When I managed to catch Jason Moran on the phone, he was working through his lunch hour at New England Conservatory. He was preparing to guide his student ensemble through In My Mind, his multimedia reinterpretation of Thelonious Monk’s 1959 Town Hall concert. He, his working trio The Bandwagon, and his student ensemble will perform the work in February. Later that day, he would also give some private lessons.

Jason first learned he was being considered for this leadership role at the Kennedy Center via a personal phone call ‘” the same way he learned he was a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. I asked him: What are your initial feelings? “I’m thrilled at the possibility to promote great music and great art in the nation’s capital, at a time when we need it most,” he said.

Almost 15 years ago, Moran was one of about a dozen young musicians in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead residency program at the Kennedy Center. He remembers Ms. Carter’s directive clearly: “Make new things.”

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