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Jason Moran: ‘I love Fats Waller, he’s the king’

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Friday June 28, 2013

From The Gazette

‘I love Fats Waller, he’s the king’
Pianist Jason Moran to show his appreciation with dance party devoted to multi-talented performer
By Juan Rodriguez

MONTREAL – Whereas many of today’s jazz pianists work in the shadows cast by the lyricism of Bill Evans or the free-form gambols of Keith Jarrett, Jason Moran displays a more hard-edged approach.

Indeed, after childhood classical music studies, the first pianist who deeply impressed him, at age 14, was Thelonious Monk on a 1957 solo recording of ’Round Midnight, perhaps the signature jazz composition. He got hooked on the angular, spiky, idiosyncratic Monk, going so far as to wear idiosyncratic hats as Monk did.

“I didn’t have any jazz knowledge to compare his sound to,” Moran recalled recently. “I was comparing Monk to Mozart and Brahms. It just seemed right. It seemed stark and bold. I was growing up in the ’80s and the hip hop I was listening to was stark, bold, about to get juicy. Monk kind of lured me in. There’s was something approachable about his music, from both a listening and technique standpoint — he’ll fool you into thinking it’s simple and make you want to learn more. So that’s how I got bit by the bug.”

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