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REVIEW Jason Moran’s “Ten”

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Friday July 09, 2010

from the Houston Chronicle

Jason Moran challenges limits of jazz
By Andrew Dansby

Ten big black dots appear on the cover of Jason Moran’s new album in a confounding cluster. Like great jazz album covers of yesteryear on the storied Blue Note label, the one for Moran’s Ten has an air of mystery amid the clarity of its bold design. The dots could simply represent an artist’s interpretation of the 10 years Moran has spent with his band the Bandwagon (a truly dynamic duo of bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Watts), a period in which tradition and innovation — order and freedom – are lovingly intertwined.

There’s also something about the cover that suggests Braille, in which case the cover could read AZY, which also wouldn’t be out of character for Moran: Two letters that bookend the alphabet, a strict procession from start to finish – only there’s the errant Y, asking the question locked inside the letter.

This is likely over-analyzing the image. But Moran’s darting career has, over the past decade, challenged preconceptions and provoked thought and questions about music and its perceived limitations.

Moran grew up in Houston’s Third Ward and has enjoyed the greatest success in jazz among graduates of the city’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. After 10 years of challenging what jazz is and can be, often in big conceptually themed albums, Moran has recorded an album that unites his own original compositions with those by jazz piano mentors and heroes, a piece by Leonard Bernstein and one that dates back to the turn of the previous century.

To read the full article online click here