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DownBeat Editor's Pick: Jason Moran's "Ten"

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Tuesday June 01, 2010

(From DownBeat Magazine)

By: Frank Alkyer

Ten documents composer/bandleader/pianist Jason Moran a decade after his debut recording for the Blue Note label. It’s a simple enough concept, but the title alone doesn’t do justice to the development of Moran during that time span. That first record, Soundtrack To Human Motion, gave us just a hint of a young pianist full of ideas and hope. But Ten shows Moran as a mature, searching artist fully in control of his musical vision. He’s become one of the best jazz artists of his generation, one of the best making music today. Ten serves as proof. With his fine trio The Bandwagon (which includes drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen), Moran mixes abundant playing chops with an ability to capture the soul of what it means to be a jazz artist today. The influences fly in from all fields — classical and jazz to hip-hop, soul, gospel, the blues and pop. One great aspect of the recording is that the originals are as strong as the covers. Moran’s “Blue Blocks” and “Gangsterism Over 10 Years” sound just as good as his updates of Thelonious Monk’s “Crepuscule With Nellie” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Big Stuff.” Mateen’s beautiful ballad “The Subtle One” holds its own when followed by The Bandwagon’s buoyantly fun version of Jaki Byard’s “To Bob Vatel Of Paris.” Ten is a “10.”