Jason Moran & the Bandwagon | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jason Moran & the Bandwagon 

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Part of a lineage that goes back to Don Pullen and McCoy Tyner, Jason Moran plays the piano with a heavy touch, especially in the lower registers, pounding out fulminant bass lines and dense, clustered chords. It can sound as if a ton of bricks had fallen on the keyboard--but one at a time, in the right order, in the right place, producing harmonies as distinctive as any in jazz during the past decade. Recently turned 30, Moran has a fractured take on verities like swing, polyrhythms, and lyricism; he's a product of the hip-hop era, and he sometimes mixes hip-hop-style static melodies and juggernaut rhythms to spectacular effect. Moran appears on two recent albums, as a featured sideman with Jack DeJohnette on clarinetist Don Byron's Ivey-Divey and helming his own group on Same Mother (both Blue Note). On the latter his terrific trio explores the connections between jazz and blues, aided by Chicago guitarist Marvin Sewell, best known for his work with Cassandra Wilson. The fusion is based on Moran's expansive vision rather than nuts-and-bolts 12-bar progressions; refracting the blues through the pianist's harmonic prism, it sounds at once rarefied and earthy. The trio, along with Sewell, plays at this show, which closes with a tribute to Dexter Gordon led by tenor men Jimmy Heath and Frank Wess. Fri 3/18, 8 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $19-$46. All ages.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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