At the tender age of 27 he is already considered one of the most important jazz pianists in the world right now.
That was what it said in the program for Jason Moran Trio at Bimhuis in Amsterdam on January 4, 2003. Not that it mattered, I had decided to go anyway to get myself some jazz, and that kind of statement ususally sets you up to be disappointed anyway. So was I disappointed? Yes I was, but only with myself for turning up late and missing half of the first set. The rest was divine.
So who is Jason Moran? He was born in Houston, Texas on January 21, 1975. He started playing piano at the age of six, but didn't really like it. He was considering quitting until he heard Thelonius Monk. With a renewed interest in music he went on to attend Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He then went on to New York City and Manhattan School of Music. His main reason was to get to study for Jaki Byard, who helped Jason Moran to become a highly individual musician.
In 1997 Jason Moran joined Greg Osby's band purely on a recommendation from Jason's high-school classmate Eric Harland. Moran and Osby hit it off immediately and they went on tour in Europe, as well as recorded an album, Further Ado, on Blue Note. This opened the eyes of the Blue Note executives and Jason Moran got his own recording contract with them.
His first album as a band leader is Soundtrack to Human Motion, released in 1999, and featuring Osby, Harland, Stefon Harris and Lonnie Plaxico. It got great reviews and the New York Times critic Ben Ratliff even named it album of the year. On the next album, Facing Left, he downsized to the Jason Moran Trio consisiting of himself, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. He followed that up with the album Black Stars, where the trio becomes a quartet thanks to Sam Rivers. In 2002 he released his first solo album, Modernistic.
Jason Moran was the youngest honoree of the San Francisco Jazz Festival Commission and he has recently been awarded a grant from Chamber Music America’s "New Works: Creation and Presentation" program. He is a fantastic pianist.
Jazz on, Jason