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Jason Moran Brings Houston Jazz to NYC

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Monday January 17, 2011

From The New York Times

Houston’s Jazz Stars, Celebrated in TriBeCa
By: Ben Ratliff

In music circles, around the turn of the new century, the phrase “from Houston” started to mean something by consensus. Not just in hip-hop and R&B — that was the time of Swishahouse Records, DJ Screw, UGK and Destiny’s Child — but, strangely enough, in jazz.

Beginning at that time Jason Moran, the pianist from Houston’s Third Ward who’d moved to New York in 1993, was getting around all kinds of normative ideas about jazz style and repertory, but he didn’t isolate himself from the jazz tradition. He swiped inspiration from all over the place — visual art, film, the music of spoken conversation in foreign languages — but also played with Greg Osby and Sam Rivers and Charles Lloyd and Wayne Shorter. He was having it both ways. If asked what formed him, he’d talk about his teachers, and that would lead him to talk about Houston and the school he attended for three years there: the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

Then, in a steady rollout, you noticed other young musicians from that same school, most of whom had studied with the same teacher, Robert Morgan. The drummers Eric Harland, Kendrick Scott, Chris Dave and Jamire Williams. The trombonist Corey King. The guitarist Mike Moreno. The pianists Robert Glasper and Helen Sung. The trumpeters Leron Thomas and Brandon Lee. The bassists Burniss Earl Travis and Mark Kelley and Marcos Varela. If you looked a little beyond jazz, you saw Josh Mease and Alan Hampton, putting crazy chord sequences into something like folk-pop, and Bryan-Michael Cox, who was writing and producing for R&B stars.

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