Jason Moran

Elbphilharmonie Sessions: Jason Moran

The jazz pianist performs three of his own compositions in the foyer of the Grand Hall.

The Artist

Rolling Stone magazine has called the pianist Jason Moran »the most provocative thinker in current jazz«. Born in Houston in 1975 and classically trained, Moran has had a huge influence on modern jazz with his improvisations, compositions and playing technique. After numerous critically acclaimed albums, he is now in the same league as jazz greats such as Herbie Hancock and Thelonious Monk, his greatest role model. However, Moran does not regard himself as a pioneer: »I bring new ideas to old things«, he says about his artistic approach.

Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus
Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus
Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus
Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus
Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus
Jason Moran Jason Moran © Daniel Dittus

The Music :»Winds« / »How Much More Terrible Was The Night« / »For Love«

When Jason Moran writes new music, he also likes to draw inspiration from other art forms – be that painting, architecture or literature. »I approach music from as many angles as possible«, he says. He also addresses social issues: in »Winds«, a work he composed for the Jazztopad Festival in Wrocław, he refers to the time in which jazz could only be played in the underground in Poland. In that work, the wind represents the medium through which music unstoppably moves on from one person to another – often covertly.

Moran released »How Much More Terrible Was The Night« shortly after the storming of the Capitol in Washington in January 2021. In it he comments on the terrible situation the USA found itself in during this time. The title is a quotation from the novel »Song of Solomon« by the Nobel Prize-winning Afro-American author Toni Morrison, who died in 2019. »Her writings gave me alot of centering during the pandemic«, says Moran. »I had to look for where the truth was going to be, and it lives in her books.« This composition, like the last piece of the session »For Love«, appeared on the album »The Sound Will Tell You«.

The Location

»You don’t play music in a vacuum, every room I arrive to and every audience is an interaction«, says Jason Moran. He certainly feels at home in the Elbphilharmonie: »There is no other building like this in the world. It feels extremely special to play here.« Moran is particularly fond of the foyer of the Grand Hall, to which the Steinway D grand piano has been rolled for the session: »I tried to pattern my own music studio at home after a room like this«

Foyer Großer Saal
Foyer Großer Saal © Daniel Dittus

About the series

Artists record exclusive music videos at the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle for Elbphilharmonie Sessions – sometimes in unusual locations offstage. Discover the concert halls from the inside. Discover what they sound like.

Text: Francois Kremer, last updated: 13 Jan 2022

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