Jason Moran, Jeff Parker, Ken Vandermark, and Nasheet Waits | Green Mill | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Jason Moran, Jeff Parker, Ken Vandermark, and Nasheet Waits Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Fri., Feb. 4, 9 p.m. and Sat., Feb. 5, 8 p.m. 2011

Pianist Jason Moran had a remarkable 2010, and winning a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship wasn't even the half of it. His trio the Bandwagon, with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, released Ten (Blue Note)—the title celebrates the decade they've been playing together—which won album of the year by a wide margin in the Village Voice jazz critics' poll (and topped my ballot too). The band nonchalantly disassembles and reconstructs Moran's originals as well as compositions by everyone from Jaki Byard to Leonard Bernstein to Conlon Nancarrow, the three of them moving as a single cohesive organism under his leadership—their intuition is so finely tuned it seems like they're plugged into one another's brains. Moran also played on superb 2010 albums by Charles Lloyd, Ralph Alessi, Paul Motian, and Rudresh Mahanthappa with Bunky Green, all of whom clearly chose him for his ability to tailor his idiosyncrasies to a session. Few jazz musicians as daring as Moran ever earn such widespread acclaim—not to mention so many high-profile commissions, from the likes of the Monterey Jazz Festival and Chamber Music America—but his success has yet to blunt his curiosity. He sought out adventurous New York guitarist Mary Halvorson before she became a critics' darling, and this weekend's engagement arose from an equally unexpected collaboration. Under the leadership of Eric Revis—the bassist in Branford Marsalis's working quartet—Moran has gigged several times in New York with Chicago reedist Ken Vandermark, whose visceral style of improvisation, heavily influenced by European free jazz, places him in a different musical world. Revis can't make it for these concerts, but Waits can—he's a dynamic, explosive drummer, and he'll be joined in the rhythm section by guitarist Jeff Parker, who's equally original and unpredictable. Moran, Parker, and Vandermark will teach the group music they've written, and I expect to hear some free improvisation as well. But with such an intriguingly diverse blend of talent on display—this is almost certainly the only time two MacArthur fellows have shared the Green Mill's stage—I'd be there even if they'd promised to play nothing but Miley Cyrus songs.—Peter Margasak

Price: $12.

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