'The Armory Concert' by Jason Moran Review: Sitting Within Jazz

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Wednesday July 20, 2016

From The Wall Street Journal
By Larry Blumenfeld

‘The Armory Concert’ by Jason Moran Review

The Veterans Room of Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory, which opened in 1881 and reopened as newly restored in March, is a riot of color, visual rhythm and contrasting details. Fine patterns of wood and metal intersect and overlap. Depending on where one’s gaze is set, the style is Moorish, Japanese, Greek, or Celtic. If walls could speak, these would alternately whisper of refinement and roar with audacity. Designed by Louis C. Tiffany & Co., Associated Artists, the room conveys the American Aesthetic Movement’s experimental ideas, now more than a century old, as freshly illuminated under gold-hued LED lighting.

In this jewel within an armory repurposed as a performance center, pianist Jason Moran has curated the series ‘Artists Studio,’ which runs through Nov. 21 and involves a wide range of performers. When he began the series with a March solo-piano performance, the setting made sense. Now 41 years old, Mr. Moran has for half his life made music that argues for the vitality of jazz’s century-old tradition largely by reimagining its contours and isolating its distinctive details. Before his solo performance, he described his series to the audience as ‘conversations about what this room is.’ His music might also be a series of discussions about what it sounds and feels like to sit within jazz.

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