Jason Moran & the Bandwagon Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., June 1, 8 p.m. 2012

On 2010's terrific, multilayered Ten (Blue Note), pianist Jason Moran reasserted himself as one of jazz's most original thinkers and inventive bandleaders. But as ambitious as that record is, it pales next to the multimedia collaboration Bleed, which he presented with his wife, singer Alicia Hall Moran, across five action-packed days of the Whitney Museum's prestigious Biennial earlier this month—it featured film, pop music, opera, dramatic readings, performance art, and more. Somewhere between the two in scope is Moran's project paying homage to the music of pianist, singer, and composer Fats Waller, which he brings to Chicago tonight; it premiered in May 2011 at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse as part of the first Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival, which commissioned it. For that first show Moran was joined by a troupe of dancers and singer and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, an outsize presence all by herself. The traveling ensemble won't include either, though the band is of comparable size: it consists of Moran's working trio the Bandwagon (with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits), singer Chris Turner, saxophonist Tia Fuller, trumpeter Leron Thomas, trombonist Corey King, and guitarist Mike Moreno. According to a New York Times review by Ben Ratliff, Moran and company used only fragments of Waller's tunes, building new music referencing styles and sounds that have emerged in the decades since he died in 1943—including Motown, house, and hip-hop. For part of the New York performance Moran wore a giant Waller mask made by Haitian artist Didier Civil, and it will make an appearance here as well. —Peter Margasak

Price: $22-$52

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