DCist Interview: Jason Moran

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Wednesday October 10, 2012


DCist Interview: Jason Moran

The jazz world suffered a huge loss in 2010 with the passing of Dr. Billy Taylor. Taylor was a master pianist, prolific composer, respected educator and pioneering jazz presenter. A District native, Taylor’s local impact was mainly felt through his tenure as Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center, a position he held from 1994 until his death.

When it came to finding Dr. Taylor’s replacement, the Kennedy Center’s leadership went with a bold choice, tapping pianist/composer Jason Moran to fill the vacancy. Known for his innovative compositions and adventurous improvising, plus a deep respect and understanding for jazz history, Moran has the perfect blend of abilities to shine in this role. At just 37, the MacArthur Fellow can also relate to the younger audiences that large arts institutions so desperately need to attract.

The Kennedy Center’s move drew universal praise, but the proof will be in the pudding come this weekend, which marks the start of Moran’s inaugural jazz season. His programming has lived up to the high expectations, offering patrons a wide variety of performances that range from the traditional to the cutting edge with sprinkles of surprise. Traditionalists will appreciate sets from Jimmy and Tootie Heath, while more energetic crowds can see Medeski Martin & Wood and Soulive in a new standing room space. Moran will also be teaming up with comedian David Alan Grier for what is sure to be a memorable performance, and locals will be proud to see singer Christie Dashiell on the calendar. Moran and his band will also host a jam session on Election Night that is sure to be a highlight.

DCist interviewed Moran to get his thoughts on his new position and the upcoming season.

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