Slate Mag: Best Jazz Albums

< Back

Thursday December 21, 2017

From Slate Magazine

The Best Jazz Albums of 2017

Jason Moran, MASS {Howl, eon}

Jason Moran is the most inventive jazz pianist on the scene, and this is his most unusual album. The artist Julie Mehretu spent nearly a year painting two gigantic canvases in a converted church in Harlem (they’re now hanging at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art); Moran dropped by now and then to compose music inspired by her swirls and strokes. Last spring, he brought in cornetist Graham Haynes and drummer Jamire Williams to improvise on the score and their own visions of Mehretu’s art, and this is the result—grand, intimate, stormy, and meditative, alternately or all at once.

Jason Moran, Thanksgiving at the Vanguard

Here’s Jason Moran again, this time with his long-standing Bandwagon trio (Tarus Mateen on bass, Nasheet Waits on drums). For more than a decade, they’ve played all Thanksgiving week at the Village Vanguard. The album consists of selections from that week in 2016. It starts with a firebrand piano solo, segues into a roller-coaster ride through Moran’s “Gangsterism” theme (which he’s featured on many albums), sails into a lovely original ballad, batters the head with long rumbling, comes up for air with a Monk tune (Moran is one of two or three living pianists who can play Monk with Monk’s spirit but their own touch), and heads out with a reverie. I could do without the rumbling, but otherwise it captures the zest of being there.

See the others here