Friday, September 9, 2011

OPEN LETTER TO JASON MORAN

Jazz pianist Jason Moran

Dear Jason,

I’m still pissed your set at the Detroit Jazz Festival was called off. I know it wasn’t your fault. I’m having a hard time letting it go. Man, I was anxious to hear your trio. But Mother Nature made it rain, and the  Saturday evening acts were cancelled. The audience didn’t give a shit about the thunder and the lighting. With your own eyes, you saw people out there with umbrellas, and rain gear, waiting for Mature Nature to cool it.

Jazz fans are dedicated, especially the ones from Detroit. Had Hurricane Irene swept through Detroit the fans still would’ve shown up. I wondered why Mother Nature decided to target Detroit anyway. She’s never interrupted the jazz fest before. She knows good and well this is Detroit's biggest music event of the year. It attracts jazz fans from all over the world.

Maybe Mother Nature and Father Nature had a big fight. Maybe Father Nature forgot her birthday, or came home after his curfew smelling different than when he left home. I'm going to investigate what cause Mother Nature to lose it. If Father Nature provoked her, I'm going to give the rascal a piece of my mind.

Jason, it’s been almost two decades since I’ve seen you in person. In the late 90’s, you played at a bar in Hamtramck, a small city outside of Detroit. I forgot the name of the bar. I was only there that one time. Blue Note Records had just signed a bunch of young lions. The company put together a band, and showcased it in select cities. Mark Shim, Greg Osby, and Stefon Harris were in the band. Neither of you were household names yet.

That show was pretty amazing. A year or so later, jazz concert producer Bill Foster booked Osby at the Serengeti Ballroom on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. You were in the rhythm section.   

I have your albums. I marvel at how you manipulate special effects. On one song, two women gossiped on the telephone while you improvised in the background. I understood the point you're trying to convey. That even meaningless gossip is music, or it can be turned into music. 

On another record, you improvised while someone scribbled in a notebook. Jason that  floored me. Just when I thought you couldn’t get more creative you turned the hip hop classic Planet Rock into a jazz tune.

I missed your set with Joe Lovano at Hill Auditorium a few years ago. My friend Andy was in the house. He said your solo set was beyond amazing. So, you understand why I was hot when your set at the jazz fest was called off. My ears were ready. I skipped some of the afternoon acts. I wanted to be fully rested to hear your trio, Sun Ra Arkestra, and Dave Holland. That’s a lot of swing to consume back to back.  

Saturday, I spotted you twice. First, with your family near the Pyramid Stage. Then I saw you before the Sun Ra Arkestra was set to go on. You were backstage at the Carhartt Stage. I wanted to ask you a few questions. But the timing was bad. You were with your sons. I decided not to bother you.

I wanted to know if someday you plan to record any of Jaki Byard’s songs, seeing as how Jaki influenced you. I also wanted to know if you plan to make a straight ahead jazz trio album without the sound effects. Not that I’m tired of the music you’ve been making. I wonder if a jazz musician as daring and creative as you are could play it straight.

So, Jason that why I was pissed your set got cancelled. There’s a silver lining, however. You are playing with saxophone player Charles Lloyd in Ann Arbor, MI in April. 

All the best,
Charles
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