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Jason Moran was born January 21, 1975 in Houston, Texas. He began studying the piano at age 6, but longed to quit the instrument until he first experienced the sounds of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, an experience that renewed his interest in music and established an early role model in his creative development.

Moran went on to attend Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where he became an active member of the jazz program, playing in the big band and leading a jazz quartet. His aspirations and talents eventually led him to New York City where he continued his education at the Manhattan School of Music, a school to which he was drawn by the prospect of studying with the pianist Jaki Byard, a jazz leftist who became Moran’s teacher for 4 years and a role model for life. It was during this time that Moran also took lessons from other forward-thinking pianists such as Muhal Richard Abrams and Andrew Hill, creative musicians who imparted a profound influence on Moran, and encouraged him to find his own distinct voice.

In 1997, while Moran was still a senior in college, the drummer Eric Harland, a high school classmate of Moran’s, recommended him to saxophonist Greg Osby who was in the process of assembling a band for a European tour. Osby hired Moran based solely on Harland’s description of his playing, and the match proved to be auspicious. The connection between Osby and Moran was present as soon as they hit the bandstand, and Moran has become a fixture in Osby’s touring and recording bands ever since.

Moran made his professional recording debut on Osby’s 1997 Blue Note CD, Further Ado, which brought him to the attention of Blue Note executives who signed the pianist to his own record deal shortly thereafter. The association with Blue Note is fitting, placing Moran in the lineage of innovative pianist/composers whose career beginnings were nurtured by the veteran jazz label, musicians such as Monk, Herbie Hancock and Herbie Nichols.

Moran’s debut recording as a leader, Soundtrack to Human Motion, which found him in the company of Osby, Harland, vibraphonist Stefon Harris and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, was released in 1999 to great critical praise (Ben Ratliff of The New York Times named it the best album of the year). The following year’s Facing Left found Moran stripping down to a trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and prompted JazzTimes magazine to declare the album “an instant classic.” Moran augmented the trio for his third Blue Note release, Black Stars, adding avant-garde icon Sam Rivers, who plays saxophone, flute and piano on the recording. Gary Giddins of the Village Voice exclaimed “Black Stars is possibly a Blue Note benchmark, definitely one of the year’s outstanding discs.”

Moran has performed as a sideman with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, Lee Konitz, Von Freeman, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. He was the youngest honoree of the New Work Commission by the San Francisco Jazz Festival. He was also awarded a grant from Chamber Music America’s "New Works: Creation and Presentation" program, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. For these two grants Moran used sampled conversations as vocal triggers. These compositions would be the foundation for many of Moran’s new compositions. Jazziz magazine wrote “Moran is blessed with the courage of his own convictions—part scavenger and part seer, fluent in the cut/paste/splice devices of hip hop production….”

In 2002, Moran released his universally acclaimed solo piano disc Modernistic. The Cork Jazz Festival awarded Moran the 2002 Guiness Rising Star Award. 2003’s The Bandwagon, culled from the trio’s six-day stint at New York’s Village Vanguard, earned the team of Moran-Mateen-Waits a title as “the best new rhythm section in jazz” (The New York Times) and caused Rolling Stone to proclaim Moran “the most provocative thinker in current jazz.”

The Jazz Journalists Association awarded Moran with the “Up-n-Coming Jazz Musician” of 2003. He has appeared on the cover of JazzTimes with Joe Lovano and on the cover of Down Beat with his mentor Andrew Hill. Moran topped the Down Beat Critics Poll in three categories in 2003 and 2004 – Rising Star Jazz Artist, Rising Star Pianist, Rising Star Composer. In 2002 and 2003, the First Run Film Festival awarded Moran “Best Original Score” for Pagan Harlemann’s “Two Three Time” and Chris Dillon’s “All We Know of Heaven”. New York’s Nightlife Awards honored Moran with awards for “Best Jazz Combo – The Bandwagon” and “Best Performance – Solo Piano at The Jazz Standard”.

He has been lecturer/instructor at Banff Center for The Arts (’03,’04), Denmark’s’ Vallekilde Jazz Camp (’03), Skidmore (’00), Manhattan School of Music (’02-’04), The New School (’04) and his alma-mater, HSPVA (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts). In 1994, Moran’s family created HSPVA’s “Moran Scholarship Award,” which is awarded to an outstanding junior and senior in jazz. Moran took over responsibility in 2001 as a commitment to education.

His sixth release on Blue Note, Same Mother, was released in February 2005. This blues based recording adds guitarist, Marvin Sewell, to the Bandwagon. Same Mother is “a reconsideration of the blues that doesn’t depend on clichéd dynamics and song structure” (The New York Times).

In 2005, Moran accepted three separate commissions from three different pre-eminent American arts institutions: Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Dia Art Foundation. Selected movements from the music created for these commissions—RAIN, Milestone, and The Shape, the Scent, The Feel of Things—constitutes the recording, Artist In Residence, which was released in 2006.

In October 2007, Moran debuted the multi-media project In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959, a celebration of pianist and composer Thelonious Monk in honor of his 90th birthday. Commissioned by Duke Performances, Washington Performing Arts Society, SF Jazz, and Jazz at Symphony Center, In My Mind has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, including a performance at New York’s Town Hall to mark the 50th anniversary of Monk’s legendary concert.

2010 was a momentous year for Moran. He was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship and released the most assured and focused recording of his career, TEN, which celebrated the 10 year anniversary of The Bandwagon. The album prompted JazzTimes to declare Moran “jazz’s greatest young conceptualist,” adding that he “pierces the bubble around jazz by reconnecting it not only to popular culture but also to the sounds of daily life.”

In 2011, Moran began a fruitful association with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. where he is now the Artistic Director for Jazz, a role that allows him to develop programming and curate artists for one of the largest jazz programs in the United States, as well as working with the Center’s other programming departments to coordinate programming for multidisciplinary festivals and events.

In the Fall of 2014 Moran released All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller, a collaboration with the vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello that recasts the music of the legendary jazz entertainer Fats Waller as a modern dance party. The album is the studio culmination of a project that was born onstage at Harlem Stage Gatehouse as the Fats Waller Dance Party in 2011 as part of their “Harlem Jazz Shrines” series.
 

 
 

 

 
 

 

Alicia Hall Moran and Jason Moran: What We Learned From Michelle Obama — January 15, 2017, The Daily Beast

“Husband and wife Jason Moran and Alicia Hall Moran, both highly accomplished musicians, talk about the first lady’s inspiring influence on their lives, their marriage and art.”

Jason Moran's Second Solo Album 'Locates an Essential Jazz Core' – July, 18, 2016, Wall Street Journal

“Mr. Moran has for half his life made music that argues for the vitality of jazz’s century-old tradition largely by reimagining its contours and isolating its distinctive details... His music might also be a series of discussions about what it sounds and feels like to sit within jazz.”

Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran Tiny Desk ConcertJune 28, 2016, NPR Music

“Together, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran make jazz that draws from the past while looking to the future. Lloyd's body of work stretches back to the mid-1960s, and has always shown a disregard for boundaries and cliches. He seems determined to work through the later part of his career with artistically and spiritually motivated playing that simply astounds.”

 

Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran Tiny Desk ConcertJune 28, 2016, NPR Music

 

“Together, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran make jazz that draws from the past while looking to the future. Lloyd's body of work stretches back to the mid-1960s, and has always shown a disregard for boundaries and cliches. He seems determined to work through the later part of his career with artistically and spiritually motivated playing that simply astounds.”

 

Robert Glasper and Jason Moran stun Blue Note Jazz Festival in NYC – June 25, 2016, Rolling Out

“As a part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival in New York, Grammy award-winning and well known jazz musician Robert Glasper and renowned jazz pianist Jason Moran recently delivered a stunning jazz piano duet. In what was a packed venue, tourists, jazz lovers and date night couples from all areas of NYC wined and dined as Glasper and Moran brought their sounds of jazz to life.”

 

Christian McBride and Jason Moran Talk Beyond Country and Blues: The Jazz Legacy of Houston June 23, 2016, NPR

 

"It seems to me that over the last 15 to 20 years, there has been an onslaught of these great musicians from Houston on the jazz scene.”

 

Jason Moran conjures up the spirit of Fats Waller and adds a house music spinJune 1, 2016, Charleston City Paper

“Don't let the papier-maché head fool you. That's my tip when it comes to jazz pianist Jason Moran's tribute show to Fats Waller. Yes, his performance may involve a kitsch costume, but Moran takes the legend's music very seriously.”

 

Jason Moran: STAGED ReviewMay 7, 2016, Culturekiosque

“Moran is deeply invested in complicating the relationship between music and language, exploring ideas of intelligibility and communication.”

At the Ballet: Jason Moran and Charles Lloyd collaborate with Alonzo King and Lines Ballet - 7x7, April 25, 2016

One of the key drivers of excitement was the fact that King—known for his love of collaboration with artists of other disciplines—would this evening be joined by the music of pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Charles Lloyd.

The New York Times - Review: Jason Moran at the Park Avenue Armory - March 8, 2016
Mr. Moran has his own sense of touch and rhythm and harmony, rounded and forgiving rather than pinpointed; it lets you in. And this was crucial, in that sublime and exclusive room, almost too opulent for this world.

For Jazz Pianist Jason Moran, the Future of Jazz Includes Fats Waller - Los Angeles Magazine, February 5, 2016
Putting together a dance party is one way to introduce new generations to the genre.

Skateboards and jazz collide this weekend at YoungArts campus - Miami, com, February 2, 2016
Presentation features a live band performing as professional skateboarders put on a show

Jazzdor, Strasbourg - Concert Review - November 7, 2015

Jason Moran in Stuttgart - Concert Review - November 3, 2015

Two Pianos, heading to points unknown - April 29, 2015
StarTribune - "Keyboard masters Jason Moran and Robert Glasper join forces for a rare duo concert Saturday at Walker Art Center."

Jason Moran takes liberties with his homage to Thelonious Monk March 29, 2015
The Washington Post - "Moran’s genius for balancing homage with disruption is such that the distinction was blurry..."

Jason Moran swings future of jazz into city March 29, 2015
The Philadelphia Tribune - "Artistic director of Jazz at the Kennedy Center Jason Moran is a brilliant, risk taking pianist, whose compositions have earned him a reputation as “the future of jazz,” most recently recognized for his work on the musical score of Oscar-nominated film “Selma.”"

Jason Moran and Other Guest Artists to Curate Kennedy Center Season - March 3, 2015

Why the 'Selma' Soundtrack Deserves an Oscar February 20th, 2015

Jason Moran rising - February 18th, 2015
"Missing the Grammy award means little to Moran because there's no stopping his brilliant run."

Robert Glasper and Jason Moran Blue Note Duo Concert for Jazz on 3 Broadcast - February 13th, 2015
JazzwiseMagazine.com - "The hour-long duo performance was recorded by BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3 and will be broadcast on Monday 16 February at 11pm."

How Jazz Pianist Landed the Score for 'Selma'  - January 12th, 2015
Billboard  - "The ethos of jazz pianist Jason Moran hit home for Selma director Ava DuVernay. Highlighting his own work, Moran, 39, described an art project titled "The Quilts of Gee's Bend, Alabama" as a piece that "combines the rural and the urban." DuVernay's reaction: "She said, 'That's exactly it,'" he recalls. Selma, about the events leading up to Martin Luther King Jr.'s landmark 1965 march for voting rights (which opened nationally Jan. 9), is Moran's first feature film score..."

Jason Moran Tips Hat to Traditional While Transcending the Jazz Idiom - January 6th, 2015
Variety - "Grammy-nominated for "All Rise," pianist breaks new ground with 'Selma' score"

Grammy Nomination - December 5th, 2014
Jason's All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller has been nominated for Best Jazz Instrumental Album.

We're Gonna Party Like it's 1939 - October 4th, 2014
From The Wall Street Journal: "Jason Moran pays tribute to Fats Waller in this breezy new album."

Music Review: 'All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller' - Sep 17th, 2014
From NPR Music Review: ‘All Rise: A Joyful Elegy For Fats Waller’ By Tom Moon One of the important thinkers in present-day jazz is taking his cue from the 1920’s on his latest project. Pianist Jason Moran has released All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller...

Jason Moran pays loving homage to Fats Waller on 'All... - Sep 16th, 2014
From Los Angeles Times: Jason Moran pays loving homage to Fats Waller on ‘All Rise’.In this risk-averse music industry, there’s never a shortage of tribute albums. But few carry the same vibrant sense of adventure as Jason Moran’s loving homage to one of pop music’s earliest heroes, Fats Waller...

Official Websitewww.jasonmoran.com
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Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/thejasonmoran
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Label | Blue Note

Management | Vision Arts Management
Louise Holland, louise[a]visionartsmgmt.com

Press | Cem Kurosman, cem.kurosman[a]umusic.com
+1 212-786-8634

Discography | Jason Moran on AllMusic.com