Though he has become a noted conceptual artist whose work graces major museums and festivals, Jason Moran is first and foremost a jazz pianist of superior skill and artistry. Whether in The Bandwagon, his trio with Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits, or in other combinations, he has been a consummate collaborator from the start: “Can we all just agree that this is the debut … if not the record of the year?” All About Jazz wondered in 1999, summing up the prevailing sentiment about Moran’s Blue Note debut, the ensemble record Soundtrack to Human Motion.
But the special sensitivity of Moran’s playing and the leaping span of his ideas are distilled most piercingly in his exceptionally fine solo piano records. The first was Modernistic in 2002, which nimbly navigated Schumann, stride pianist James P. Johnson, “Planet Rock,” and points both outlying and inlying. “Moran burns the rule book and presents something so thoroughly individual as to be practically without precedent,” AllMusic said. “And still it comes across as a statement of love and respect for the jazz piano tradition.”
In 2016, Moran launched his own label, Yes Records, with another solo album, this time all originals, which also inaugurated the Artists Studio Series at The Park Avenue Armory. And 2021 brought The Sound Will Tell You, a tribute to Toni Morrison in which Moran experiments with flurrying pianism shadowed by digital effects. With this rich palette to draw from in his solo concert, Moran is sure to prove yet again why The New York Times preemptively knighted him as “the elder statesman-to-be that jazz has been waiting for.”