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Jason Moran - Modernistic

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Jason Moran
CD / Album
Label / Studio
Blue Note Records

Piano virtuoso Jason Moran has made a stunning artistic statement with MODERNISTIC. While Moran's BLACK STARS (featuring the great avant-garde saxophonist Sam Rivers) and THE BANDWAGON (a live outing) find him playing ably with a crack team of musicians, MODERNISTIC is pure solo piano. Aside from having prodigious technical skills (he employs dense flourishes, exquisite sensitivity to space, and punk-styled aggression), Moran has an all-encompassing imagination, as evidenced by the album's staggeringly eclectic set list. The opener, a treatment of James P. Johnson's "You've Got to Be Modernistic," seems to be almost tongue-in-cheek at first. Yet Moran speaks through Johnson's stride innovations, illustrating that the future of music is always built upon it's past. (Similarly, Moran gives a gorgeous reading of Robert Schumann's "Auf Einer Burg" here.) Yet Moran is equally committed to contemporary sounds, employing a Hip-Hop beat in a version of Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," and venturing into breathtaking abstractions in Muhal Richard Abrams's "Time into Space into Time." Moran's own compositions measure up to his covers in their elegance and invention, fleshing out this manifesto of personal artistry. If the early 21st century has any equivalent to the likes of Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Bill Evans, Jason Moran is it.

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1) You've Got to Be Modernistic
2) Body and Soul
3) Planet Rock
4) Planet Rock Postscript
5) Time Into Space Into Time
6) Gangsterism on Irons
7) Moran Tonk Circa 1936
8) Passion
9) Gangsterism on a Luchtable
10) Ruf Einer Burg/In a Fortress
11) Gentle Shifts South

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Modernistic | Jason Moran