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Moran & Holland: Jazz Royalty

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Monday January 30, 2012

From The Cornell Daily Sun

Jazz Royalty Captivates Barnes Hall
By: Daveen Koh

Darn that dream. You know there’s something great stirring when an audience maintains an awestruck silence (punctuated only by rapturous ovations) throughout a performance. Even before pianist Jason Moran and his special guest, bassist Dave Holland, could play one note, the effusive audience rolled out a red carpet for the duo. The affable and unassuming pair truly earned every inch of applause they received, holding nothing back as they took the audience through sprawling soundscapes and hypnotic tangoes. This intimate evening in Barnes Hall was infinitely better than a dream.

These titans never clashed. Holland’s philosophy of “playing it all” (on advice from another legendary jazz musician, Sam Rivers) was evidently shared by Moran. From Rivers’ “Beatrice” to Moran’s “Gummy Moon,” Moran and Holland were first-rate co-captains, eagerly and leisurely taking turns to steer the ship. Their partnership shone in “Gummy Moon,” Moran’s composition inspired by the many nights he spent reading “Goodnight Moon” to his small children. As Holland played a persistent and steadily comforting bass line, Moran’s soothingly-rendered notes gently crafted a dazzling narrative that sometimes leapt in surprise.

The duo certainly made working together look like a walk in the park. Well, actually, they did take the audience “Once Round Central Park.” The song, composed by their late friend Paul Motian and played in his honor, saw Moran and Holland conversing light-heartedly traipsed around the park. The pair displayed a startling ability to sketch out scenes and emotions, alternating between tranquil introspection (perhaps as they passed a lush field or paused by a magnificent fountain on their stroll) and effusive excitement.

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