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Jason Moran and the Bandwagon: Ten

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Pianist and bandleader Jason Moran’s exceptional trio the Bandwagon marks its first decade on Ten, which is the pianist’s first CD in more than four years. It’s also a release that explores multiple contexts and situations rather than relying on or spotlighting a central theme. Moran is equally accomplished interpreting works, writing tunes or collaborating with others, and this latest session highlights his proficiency in each area.

His version of Monk’s “Crepuscule With Nellie” nicely illuminates the original’s sentimental melody, while offering a rigorous and memorable personal touch courtesy of the pianist’s supple improvisations and the impressive backing of bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. The ensemble also nicely reworks Jaki Byard’s “To Bob Vatel of Paris,” keeping the striding feel and elegant Byard touches yet still featuring ample Moran harmonic twists and rhythm section contrasts. Moran’s versatility in terms of source material is also evident in the treatments of Conlon Nancarrow’s “Study No. 6” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Big Stuff.” Neither is exactly the type of catchy melodic or arresting rhythmic piece that immediately attracts fans, but both become memorable tunes through Moran’s facility.

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