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Modernistic

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 17, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Only in his mid-20s, Jason Moran has several impressive recordings under his belt. On 2001's Black Stars he was joined by the legendary Sam Rivers, which is a testament to this young pianist-composer's strengths. Inspired by such hard-to-classify predecessors as Andrew Hill, Randy Weston, and Herbie Nichols, Moran has likewise created his own sound, allowing seemingly diverse material to coalesce around his own sensibility. Modernistic is his first truly solo outing, and it finds some of his own material joined by the compositions of Schumann, James P. Johnson, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Afrika Bambaataa (making good on the album's title, Moran does a prepared piano version of the latter's "Planet Rock"). He moves with grace and confidence from miniature atmospheric landscapes ("Gangsterism on Irons" stands somewhere between Copland and Satie) to gleefully fractured post-bop high jinks. Moran is proving himself to be the latest pianist who has recognizable passions for both jazz and classical traditions. --David Greenberger
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 17, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B00006F2WQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,364 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. M. Jenkins on December 12, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Jason Moran is one of a kind. He is equally influenced by classical music such as Schumann, whose "Auf Einer Burg/In A Fortress" is interpreted on this album. Moran was mentored by a handful of amazing pianists including Muhal Richard Abrams, Jaki Byard (one of my personal favorites), and Andrew Hill. But of course, he has come into his own and definitively showed his musical identity on this album.
I own his previous three albums which are all excellent, and to be honest, i was disappointed when i first got this album. I found it hard to get into, and didn't really listen to it much. I guess it just wasn't what i expected. Of course, one day i just picked it up after a few weeks and listened to it on my headphones by myself in my room, and i just got it. This is definitely a headphone album and may take time to truly appreciate.
This album, being a solo work by Moran, is unlike his other albums, but is a logical extension of them. It opens with a cover of James P. Johnson's "You've Got To Be Modernistic" which is still my favorite track on the album as Moran shows a mastery of old styles and an ability to expand on them in logical and interesting ways. The next track is "Body And Soul" which of course, everyone has heard a million times, but Moran makes it his own. He then goes into a strange but catchy rendition of Afrika Bambataa's "Planet Rock." This will grow on you. Moran also includes two new versions of his "Gangsterism" series and they are both really great. These are definitely something to look forward from album to album. There is also a song he does on mini-piano i believe called "Moran Tonk Circa 1936" which is Moran writing a stride-ish piece of his own. The other originals are very nice as well.
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Format: Audio CD
I picked this CD up @ a sale without previous knowledge of Moran. The price was right & the label was Blue Note; so I bumped for the buck. I enjoy piano. To me, it's such an expressive instrument, capable of such shades of emotion. I am greatly pleased with "Modernistic." Moran's solo piano set is quite a personal explosion. He fuses so many elements from Ravel to rap in an exciting mix that is quite unlike the mainstream. Yet, I find this music both accessible and exciting. "Ruf Einer Burg/It's a Fortress" is a quiet Robert Schumann piece that touches elements of strength & sadness for me. The title track is by James P. Johnson who was a splendid 1920s jazz musician that taught Fats Waller and accompanied Bessie Smith. Moran's piano races like a sprite across the keyboards on this vibrant performance. On his own "Planet Rock" Moran has electronic playbacks in a piece that sounds part tango, part tease. "Moran Tonk Circa 1936" is a joyful glance back as it sounds like something that could have been pulled off a recording from that era. "Modernistic" is a unique & delightful CD. Enjoy!
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Format: Audio CD
The title says it all. These days traditional jazz is attracting very few young listeners, for whom "standards" from the "Great American Songbook" may as well be anthems played at baseball games. Jason Moran, like Brad Mehldau, has met the challenge by combining impressive chops and jazz savvy with music likely to connect with newer listeners who don't always respond to the material favored by Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Bill Evans. If the preference for "programmatic" music and the reliance on descriptive and narrative themes suggest "new age" music, the similarity ends with Moran's executions, which are inventive, frequently cerebral and even complex. And when he does take on a genuine standard, Johnny Green's "Body and Soul," he alters it just enough to insure it's accessibility. This album isn't my cup of tea, but Moran's pianism commands your respect along with his awareness of the need--for any artist who hopes to survive-- to adapt a tradition to a changing culture and listening population.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
From the 1920's through the 1970's Jazz was a continuously evolving art form. Each innovator strove to move the genre forward. Since the late 1970's I've seen little creative movement of the form. I believe it was Picasso who said there are two kinds of artists: Revolutionaries and Plagiarists. Jason is not a Revolutionary. He has reasonable compositional and performance skills; but, when compared to Jarrett, Corea and Hancock he leaves me yearning for more.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a very special album. Some modal, some funky, some classic, some catchy but eventually dynamic and original. Shortly, it's a great solo performance in modern jazz, after Brad Mehldau's Elegiac Cycle.
I think one of the most important thing about Moran's music is "story telling". Especially his private story about gangsterism is getting unveiled, CD by CD.
His first work, Soundtrack to Human Motion, commenced our "hidden adventure" with the first song: Gangsterism on Canvas (it was No1)
The second album, Facing Left, carried on it and ended with another gangsterism. (Gangsterism on Wood - No13)
In the third album, Black Stars, gangsterism was also ranked at the third place. (Gangsterism on a River - No3)
Now in Modernistic, we have two gangsterisms: No6 - Gangsterism on Irons and No9 - Gangsterism on a Lunchtable.
Jason Moran builds up a special structure or texture by shooting a special target in each of his albums.
Now, please try to listen them together. Firstly, you'll enjoy more. Secondly, you'll find yourself when trying to fill in the blanks (No5 would be "gangsterism on sea"). And last but not least, you'll participate to the story of a note-shooting jazz-gangster: This is gangsterism on Mr. Moran...
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