Now Playing:

Giant Steps:Jason Moran

Tuesday, 04 April 2017 12:05

The Harlem Renaissance of the 20’s and 30’s was shot through with bright, inventive, colourful artists, musicians, activist and their faithful followers.

At the age of 14, on the cusp of the start of the Renaissance in 1918. A young cherubic fella got on stage blocks from his home in Harlem and away from the ears of his preacher father and began to play the was a talent competition and his fingers flew over the keyboards. He played a tune he had heard a few times by ear and he easily won the contest.  His name was Thomas Wright Waller “Fats" would be a name he came to later. He composed his first rag months later.

Tunes that we have come to know and love, Honey Sucke Rose, Ain’t MisBehavin, Squeeze Me...all from his pen. His style was rhythmic and loose, playful and relaxed. He embodied a zest for life and music. His longtime writing partner Andy Razaf called him a “bubbling bundle of joy.”  Fast forward to 2014 when Jason Moran decided to take on the work of one of the great pianist of jazz, he had plenty of greats to choose from, but it was Fats Waller that he could not shake. The two shared a fervor for the instrument and a sharp proficiency laced with, of course, joy. Moran’s take on the music of his hero came together on the incredible All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller. Moran’s performances of the repertoire were spontaneous dance hall spectacles complete with paper mache puppets, including a gigantic Fats Waller head that Moran would wear to perform. Moran’s transformation of Waller’s material coupled with his deep respect for the roots he was digging into gave the joy of jazz a much needed safe place to land. Although he’s on to new material, Moran continues to inhabit that place where excellence meets elation.

New York Festivals Awards

The Jazz Messenger

Sign up to receive our weekly e-newsletter, The Jazz Messenger.

Jazz Calendar Login

Forgot your password? Forgot your username?