Monday, December 10, 2007

Jason Moran at the Stone

Jason Moran at the Stone

A gentle snow—more a seasoning in the air than an urgent statement of precipitation-- fell intermittently on Manhattan Friday afternoon and it felt utterly incongruous until Jason Moran’s second set at The Stone that night.

Moran’s set introduced one of the pianist’s new projects, a trio with coronet player Ron Miles and guitarist Mary Halvorson, at the Stone, the artist run space that often host works in progress by performers capable of filling much larger and less off the beaten path venues. Their best moments recalled the fluid movement of water but they cohered with an elegance that stunned.

Moran’s deeply ruminative chords set the tone of the eight song program which included originals by all three members and a sweet cover of Duke Ellington’s “I Got it Bad (and That Ain’t Good).” Moran is fond of creating deep velvety chords and that transition into hard staccato rhythmic figures. In the jazz piano pantheon, it’s his link to Jaki Byard, Muhal Richard Abrams and to a lesser degree Andrew Hill, and on this evening, the softer patterns were his connection to Miles soft blurry tone. The spiky rhythms were his bond to Halvorson, a player who looks a bit like a gussied up Lisa Loeb, but plays like a direct descendant of Derek Bailey; she created hard dissonant figures and oddball rhythms.

The unusual harmonies of a piano guitar coronet trio washed across back and forth through the sold out crowd that buzzed with anticipation before the show and left looking cleansed from the experience. If only the aftermath of snow in the city was so pleasing.


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