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Jason Moran conjures up the spirit of Fats Waller and adds a house music spin

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Wednesday June 01, 2016

From Charleston City Paper
By Kinsey Gidick

Jason Moran conjures up the spirit of Fats Waller and adds a house music spin

Here are eight words I thought I’d never write: Don’t let the papier-måché head fool you. That’s my tip when it comes to jazz pianist Jason Moran’s tribute show to Fats Waller. Yes, his performance may involve a kitsch costume, but Moran takes the legend’s music very seriously.

“He’d do these twirls of his eyes. He could bat his eyes ferociously and roll them around in his head with a big smile,” Moran explains of his choice to wear a Fats Waller mask for two-thirds of the show. “At one instance, it’s pure entertainment but in the other instance, it’s a total holdover from minstrel performers. He’s kind of at the end of that. He was the one maneuvering it out of style. He was the last one who wanted to do that publicly.”

That’s part of what makes Waller all the more fascinating — part pianist, part larger-than-life personality, Moran says he sometimes gets forgotten for the jazz titan he was.

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