Friday, 24 August 2012

New Finds at Finland's Flow Festival: Jason Moran

As you might expect from a festival in the hip capital of a self-consciously cool country there were a few esoteric choices in the Flow Festival lineup - but a couple of these really blew us away. One such artist is Jason Moran, who we loved so much we saw no fewer than three times over two days.

Moran is a Brooklyn-based jazz pianist who's been around for about 15 year and often performs with his band The Bandwagon. We saw him with The Bandwagon (bassist Tarus Maseen and incredible drummer Nashteen Waits) and performing solo, and in both settings Moran's talent, musicality and New York cool gave the set a laid back but exciting vibe. 

He seems to be able to take all of the fun parts of avant-garde jazz - the madness and freedom - and dispense with the dull insistence on extended periods of arhythmic atonality which often mar the genre, replacing these with hip hop-inspired beats and looped melodies which burst into explosions of creativity.

A standout track from Moran's solo performance was 'Ringing My Phone (Straight Outta Istanbul)' which appears on his 2003 live album The Bandwagon. Here, Moran plays along with the voice of his wife, speaking on the phone in Turkish to her mother. Check out the video below for how that pans out, especially when he loops a short section of her speech at around 3:20. Moran said he records conversations habitually, with the aim of turning them into tracks like this. Finnish, though was "on some other shit" and was going to take him some time to groove to. 

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