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New Century, Same Genius: Ornette Coleman at JVC

Jason Moran

Two or so years ago, Jason Moran played a memorable concert at Symphony Space. He transformed even the simplest and most time-honored of concert formats – solo piano – by leaving the bench between selections, sitting in a nearby chair next to a small table, calmly pouring himself water and talking to the audience as if he were at home. The result was oddly stiff, the opposite of what Moran had intended. Nonetheless, it was a stark and effective example of his drive to expand possibilities for jazz performance.

Moran is justly regarded as a major voice on his instrument, heir to such idiosyncratic masters as Andrew Hill and Jaki Byard. But his aesthetic awareness extends well beyond the keyboard. His seventh Blue Note album, Artist In Residence, due in the fall, will feature works inspired by the conceptual artists Adrian Piper and Joan Jonas. Another mixed-discipline work, Rough Crossings, had its premiere on June 2, on the same stage as Moran’s offbeat solo concert – the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space. It featured the pianist with soprano Alicia Hall Moran (his wife) and the renowned British historian Simon Schama.

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