Jason Moran Shows Off His Older, Wiser Side on 'Ten'
Pianist Jason Moran's star has been on a long steady rise since making his debut on Blue Note in 1999 with 'Soundtrack to Human Motion.' Barely into his 20s at the time, Moran was playing with saxophonist Greg Osby and had studied under Jaki Byard and others. The debut won a lot of strong notices and he followed it up in 2000 with 'Facing Left,' which featured the debut of his trio Bandwagon, and 2001's 'Black Stars,' which added elder statesman Sam Rivers to the mix.
Each succeeding album found the pianist surpassing a prodigy's heady expectations by continually building on the strengths of past work without repeating himself. Now with the release of 'Ten,' his eighth album as a leader, we find Moran more self-assured than ever while still moving in an upward trajectory. His first LP in four years finds him less the young gun and more as an artist comfortable in his own skin.
"Signing to Blue Note at a really young age and dealing with the canon as a piano player, all my favorite pianists are on the label so you want to satisfy that legacy of what the label is and how your music stands up to it," Moran tells Spinner. "I stabbed that pole really deep into the ground so that, even though the wind would come and try to knock it over, it would still stand up. Now I don't feel like I have to do all that hammering."
Now married and the father of twin sons, Moran has, like so many of us, settled into his life. He's less concerned about perception and more about trying to find a balance between creative fulfillment and being a good father and husband. To paraphrase Moran, music means something else to him now than it even did four years ago.
"It's just way more relaxed in its presentation," Moran says of 'Ten.' "I don't want to