Curtain Call: How Radio Influenced Jazz Pianist Jason Moran

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Wednesday June 25, 2014

From LA Mag

Curtain Call: How Radio Influenced Jazz Pianist Jason Moran
by Craig Byrd

When you think of L.A.‘s iconic radio concerts, KROQ’s Weenie Roast and KIIS-FM’s Wango Tango probably come to mind. But Long Beach-based jazz station KKJZ (88.1 FM) also hosts an annual concert. This weekend singers Steve Tyrell and Jane Monheit will perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall along with musician and radio host David Benoit at the second annual KJazz Summer Benefit Concert. Jazz pianist Jason Moran, who was named the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Artist of the Year in 2011, will open the show. His album Ten was also named Jazz Album of the Year.

39-year-old Moran is an innovator pianist who blends the familiar with the new. He released his first album, 1999’s Soundtrack to Human Motion. Rolling Stone said he was ‘shaping up to be the most provocative thinker in current jazz.’ In 2010 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. More recently he paired with saxophonist Charles Lloyd on the 2013 album Hagar’s Song.

Moran, who grew up in Houston, credits a local radio station for informing his sound. ‘I grew up with KTSU and that station gave me so much info about the pantheon of black sounds: reggae, gospel, blues, soul, hip hop, and mostly they played jazz. That was a major part of how I understood music.’

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