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April 2, 2012

Behind the Scenes With Jason Moran


Photo: L to R, Jason Moran (piano), Eric Harland (drums), Charles Lloyd (saxophones and flute), and Reuben Rogers (bass).

Editor’s note: Jason Moran is a pianist and a part of the Charles Lloyd New Quartet. We asked him to share his performing experiences, and we also wanted to know what Jason’s been listening to lately.

Photo below: Cover of August 2011 Downbeat magazine announcing Jason as 2011 Critic’s Pick for “Album, Artist, and Pianist of the Year.”

April 2012 marks the 5th year of my musical relationship with Charles Lloyd.  Time flies when you are having fun.  And Charles gives the band (Eric Harland, Reuben Rogers & myself) lots of room to run.  Charles is a bit of a sprinter himself, so at the drop of a hat, he’ll go shooting off into the forest, and we will search for him.  These metaphors manifest themselves in the music.  Whether Charles is pining over one of his favorite ballads with lyrics he adores. Or pulling out his Hungarian Taragato and making sounds that are ancient and contemporary.  The music pulses and churns.   And this excitement has kept me in the piano seat for the past 5 years anxiously awaiting the next foray.

What I love most about working with Charles is how he uses “sound,”  whether he has the horn to his lips, the maracas in his hands, or he’s simply dancing along to the music. Each sparks a visceral reaction within him, and his body becomes a portal for the music.  It’s what  I strive for. How to remain intensely focused in the music, allowing it to dig deeper.  Sometimes the best way to tell a band to “groove more” is by dancing to the music.

Eric Harland has been with Charles for maybe 10 years, and Reuben Rogers for 7 years.   We are all in our mid-30s, and it’s wonderful to have a collective experience supporting one of the game’s greats.  Each night, off we go, into the woods, or into the ocean.

Here are some songs I’m listening to:

And W-138 by Anthony Braxton.

Find more Jason Moran at or on Twitter @morethan88.