Jason Moran Documentary

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Thursday May 10, 2012

From Kickstarter

Grammar: A Documentary project in Brooklyn, NY by Radiclani Clytus


As a 2010 MacArthur Award recipient and triple-crown winner in Downbeat Magazine’s 59th annual critics poll, Jason Moran is by far one of the most talented musicians working in jazz today. A graduate of the acclaimed jazz programs at the Manhattan School of Music and Houston’s High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Moran currently presides as the Kennedy Center’s Artistic Advisor for Jazz and serves on the piano faculty of the New England Conservatory. Moreover, while his trio The Bandwagon (bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits) is routinely lauded for its innovative musicianship, it’s quite clear that what matters most to this pianist is the preservation of the creative legacy imparted by his legendary mentors Jaki Byard, Andrew Hill, and Muhal Richard Abrams.

Since January 2011, Gregg Conde and I have been documenting Moran’s rehearsals and performances in order to reveal the ways in which the inherently improvisational and amorphous nature of jazz music is implicit within the language of creative and artistic expression. Because much of Moran’s ongoing oeuvre blurs the boundaries between jazz, rap, and performance art, our documentary, Grammar, will not only explain how his eclectic style of playing is informed by his coming of age during the emergence of electro music, 80’s funk, house, M-Base, and the culture of hip hop but it will also demonstrate how Moran’s hybrid sense of musicality portends a foundational shift in how we define jazz music. Coincidentally, Grammar purports that jazz never truly ceased to be America’s most popular art form. As our interview footage of pioneering rap producers and MCs from the 1990s will reveal, jazz, like its kindred genres soul and funk, migrated into the genetic structure of hip hop music through the inventive practices of sampling and beat making.

Watch a video about the project below and click here to learn more.