JASON MORAN -- ARTIST IN RESIDENCE (BLUE NOTE)

A most unusual Jazz album, pianist Jason Moran's Artist In Residence is a surprisingly cohesive hodge podge of tunes commissioned for a variety of different art installations. "Arizona Landscape

 
JASON MORAN — ARTIST IN RESIDENCE



A most unusual Jazz album, pianist Jason Moran's Artist In Residence is a surprisingly cohesive hodge podge of tunes commissioned for a variety of different art installations. "Arizona Landscape" quietly explores Vince Guaraldi territory. "Refraction 2" begins on the same turf but Moran and drummer Nasheet Waits soon whip the band into a dissonant frenzy. Recalling the complicated whimsy of Zappa's instrumental work and the cacophonous spontaneity of Charlie Mingus, Moran creates incidental polyrhythms by super-imposing random percussion and the sound of charcoal pencil scratching on paper over tranquil yet angular piano. This ingenious juxtaposition draws clear parallels between music and visual art without breathing a word of explanation. For "Break Down" and "Artists Ought To Be Writing" Moran's piano perfectly mimics the speaking voice of artist Adrian Piper, expounding on the creative person's responsibility to confront and smash all pre-conceived notions about their role in society. "RAIN" has it all: a lilting melody that gently creeps up out of nowhere, peculiar percussion sounds, shifting moods, accelerating rhythms, keen ensemble interplay, an extended atonal crescendo and a smooth-landing finale that leaves you with a warm buzz and hungry for more. Brilliant. (Ric Hickey) Grade: A

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