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Glasper, Moran Kick Off Blue Note’s 75th Year at the NYC Winter Jazzfest

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Wednesday January 15, 2014

From Revive Music

Glasper, Moran Kick Off Blue Note’s 75th Year at the NYC Winter Jazzfest
By Matthew Allen

Blue Note Records is 75 years old. To see how far it’s come, you don’t have to just look at the unparalleled catalog of timeless music it’s produced during that time— classics from Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter to Norah Jones and Al Green. If you were lucky enough to be at the Town Hall in New York City on a Wednesday in January, all you had to do was observe the attire of pianists Robert Glasper and Jason Moran. Both had donned black tuxedos and shell top Adidas.

Such a striking fashion statement speaks to the nature of Moran’s and Glasper’s artistry, not to mention the very ideal that has kept Blue Note relevant all this time— the embrace of past traditions, an emphasis on present styles, and a thoughtful combination of both in an eye-catching and long-lasting presentation. This one-night-only performance not only jump started what is to be a year’s worth of celebratory events to mark the label’s landmark anniversary, but also the hotly anticipated and extended 2014 Winter Jazzfest.

The two-hour show began with Glasper and Moran playing on matching Steinway grand pianos, a hat tip to Blue Note’s very first studio session with Albert Ammons and Lux Lewis back in 1939. To that effect, their first song was a medley from that session, “Easy Rider Blues/Boogie-Woogie Stomp.” Indeed, blues and boogie-woogie were just what they’d been serving up, with Glasper riding the rhythm and Moran attacking the keys with maddening solo skills. All together, the two played five extended pieces, including a touching tribute to their moms that found them taking turns running down slow gospel licks on a Fender Rhodes.

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