I turned west on Telegraph and Plymouth Rd. en route to 100% Barber Shop. I spotted Cory, who works there and who loves talking about music waiting at the bus stop. White iPod earphones were stuffed in his ears. The barbershop was roughly three miles west on Plymouth Rd. I pulled over to ask Cory if he wanted a lift. Cory removed the earphones and peeked inside my Jeep Sahara, realizing it was me he smiled. Then he yanked on the passenger side door handle
"Are you headed to work?" I yelled thinking he had the volume of the iPod turned up high.
Cory removed the earphone from his ears.
"Yeah, man. The bus is late as usual." Cory said.
"I'm headed to the shop. I have a ten o'clock appointment with KB. Jump in."
I rolled up the passenger side window, and unlocked the doors, removed four back issues of the Metrotimes off the passenger seat.
"Man, you get a new car damn near every month. Blogging about jazz albums must pay well," Cory said.
He removed his iPod from the armband attached to his bicep. He wrapped the skinny earphone wire around the iPod and stuffed it in the pocket of his cargo pants. He strapped on the seatbelt, and I merged back into traffic. Pianist Jason Moran's new album "Ten" played on the Jeep’s CD changer. Jason worked out on his take of Thelonious ode to his wife "Crepuscule with Nellie". I turned up the volume.
Cory said, "Man, I was just listening to that album on my iPod. Jason is something else. He puts most contemporary jazz pianist to shame."
"I wouldn't go that far, but 'Ten' is a good album, and Jason is a sweet ass piano player. I got the album over the weekend and I've been listening to it nonstop since." I said.
"That's the hippest take of 'Crepuscule with Nellie' I've ever heard." Cory said.
"Hipper than Monk's original?" I asked.
"Yeah, in my book" Cory said.
At Plymouth and Beach Daley, I stopped at a red traffic light. Two young girls walked across the street wearing short, short summer shorts and flip-flops.
"This is one of those rare occasions, I agree with you. Jason really proved his worth on that tune. I liked the overall arrangements and the many tempo changes." I said.
The traffic light changed. I took off, and so did Jason on a burner titled "Gangsterism over 10 Years". On that one, I finally heard the Jaki Byard influence many jazz critics raved about since Jason first made his presence felt in jazz quarters during the late 90's.
Cory said: "Jason has been on the Gangsterism theme for a long time. Do you know the story behind it is"?
"Not really. Jason is a creative cat, so I'm sure the story is interesting. The Gangsterism thing should be dull as rice cakes by now. Somehow, he makes each Gangsterism composition sound fresh off the showroom floor," I said.
"Every time I hear one of his Gangsterism tunes, I think about Jaki Byard," Cory said.
"That's funny. I was just thinking the same thing. Critics always point out that Jason is the splitting image of Jaki. I know Jaki was his mentor, but I never thought their styles were similar. Jaki was the kind of piano player who could play every form of Black-American music in one solo. In my opinion, no other jazz piano player could do that. With Jaki it seems so natural."
"The first time I heard Jason. I heard Jaki’s influence. Jason can't play the gamut of black music in one sitting, but you got to admit Jason is just and creative."
Cory continued, "Jason ain't afraid to think outside the box."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well, on his other albums, I heard him do some really slick shit. There were two women conversing on the telephone. Their gossiping was rhythmic. Jason improvised on it, turning the conversation into music. That blew me away. On another albums Jason did the same thing while someone scribbled on a sheet of paper. No other modern jazz pianist is that daring and clever."
"Yeah, Jason can't turn just about any minute sound into music. But on 'RFK in the Land of Apartheid', I think he fell way short".
" 'Ten' is a really cool album," Cory said.
I turned left into the parking lot 100% Barbershop shares with Jet's Pizza. Jason Moran was in the middle of "To Bob Vatel of Paris". Jason fingers speed-skated across the piano keys. Before Cory hopped out my Jeep, I asked him if he thought Jason would ever make a straight ahead acoustic jazz album. .
"Making a run-of-the-mill jazz trio album would bore Jason, and his sidemen drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen. There's nothing ordinary about Jason. He is an explorer. His albums never really have a theme, but some of the antics he employ are mind blowing."