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Falling Up and Getting Down: Special Message from Andy Macdonald

This season, our season-opening event co-presentation with Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark in collaboration with City of Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation.

On September 11, as part of the Ann Arbor Skatepark’s third annual celebration, UMS and Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark give back to the community with a unique event that brings together artists and athletes in unexpected ways. With Ann Arbor local and X Games legend Andy Macdonald leading a group of celebrated skateboarders and Jason Moran & The Bandwagon providing the charts, this 360-degree immersion showcases the art of improvisation in both music and sport.

Here’s a special message from Andy Macdonald:

This event is free, but registration is required.

UMS Playlist: A Touch of Minimalism

This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by artists, UMS Staff, and community. Check out more music here.
dawn of midi
Dawn of Midi perform at Trinosophes in Detroit on January 31, 2015. Photo by Falkwyn de Goyeneche.

Minimalism can be extraordinarily beautiful. I’ve always been a believer of “less is more.” In the right hands, repetition, simplicity, and homogeneous textures of sound can envelop the listener in deeply meaningful and even spiritual ways.

In the playlist below, I’ve attempted to offer a sampling of minimalist techniques in a cross-section of genre and style, from pioneering tape experiments by Steve Reich (“It’s Gonna Rain,” ca. 1965) to minimalist 1990s electronica from the UK’s Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) and the Manchester duo Autechre (selected from their seminal 1995 LP Tri Repetae) to Dawn of Midi, a group with a mesmerizing, “electro-acoustic” sound that will perform at Trinosophes on January 31, 2015.

I have also included some surprises: Jason Moran and The Bandwagon’s cover of American-born innovator Conlon Nancarrow (who composed “Study No. 6” for player piano) and downtown New York experimental post-disco songwriter, cellist, and composer Arthur Russell (who died in 1992 at the age of 40 in relative obscurity).

This playlist represents merely a snapshot of some of my favorite minimalist moments. Hopefully it will encourage and inspire a deeper personal journey of discovery.

Please note: These fascinating (and intricate) soundscapes are best experienced on headphones.

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.

Behind the Scenes with Jason Moran and the Fats Waller Dance Party

This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by artists, UMS Staff, and community. Check out more music here.

Photo: Jason Moran performs in Fats Waller mask (made by artist Didier Civil). Photo by John Rogers.

UMS: We’re so excited to kick off our 2013-2014 season with the Fats Waller Dance Party on September 6! What should we know about this event? Can you share your favorite Fats songs with us?

Jason Moran: The Fats Waller Dance Party is simply that, a party. It is about movement and music. Fats Waller’s music got people moving back in the 30s. He is a supreme entertainer, pianist and composer. His music is a perfect vehicle for bringing people together. Working with my partner, Meshell Ndegeocello, makes this a very special examination of an American icon. Also September 6th is my 10th wedding anniversary, so we will have a nice party on that night.

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.

Best of Artist Playlists


Over the course of the past few seasons, we’ve asked some of our performers to tell us what they’ve been listening to lately. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Jazz pianist Jason Moran winner of Downbeat magazine’s 2011 Critic’s Pick for “Album, Artist, and Pianist of the Year.” He returns in our 2013-2014 season with his Fats Waller Dance Party. Listen to Jason’s playlist

2. Winner of 2011 Grammy for Best New Artist and the 2012 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album for her album Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spalding. Listen to Esperanza’s playlist

3. Jazz drummer and hip-hop producer for artists including Common, Slum Village, Talib Kweli, and The Roots, Karriem Riggins. Listen to Karriem’s playlist

If you could browse any performer’s music collection, who would it be? Why?

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.

11/12 Jazz Series

With four different events, the UMS Jazz Series celebrates jazz’s diversity, highlighting the best in contemporary jazz while honoring jazz’s legacy. Concerts include NEA Jazz Master and pianist Ahmad Jamal with James Cammack, Herlin Riley, and Manolo Badrena; A Night in Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans featuring the Rebirth Brass Band; the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis; and the Charles Lloyd Quartet, with 2010 MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland.

Subscription packages go on sale to the general public on Monday, May 9, and will be available through Friday, September 17. Current subscribers will receive renewal packets in early May and may renew their series upon receipt of the packet. Tickets to individual events will go on sale to the general public on Monday, August 22 (via and Wednesday, August 24 (in person and by phone). Not sure if you’re on our mailing list? Click here to update your mailing address to be sure you’ll receive a brochure.

An Evening with Ahmad Jamal
Ahmad Jamal, piano
James Cammack, bass
Herlin Riley, drums
Manolo Badrena, percussion

Saturday, September 17, 8 pm
Hill Auditorium

Ahmad Jamal is not just a living legend of jazz; he is one of the most inspired and inspiring artists in music today.” ( A key influence on Miles Davis and countless others, NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal incorporates a unique sense of space in his music, and his musical concepts are exciting without being loud in volume.  Born in Pittsburgh 80 years ago, Jamal is playing better than ever, with lifetime achievement awards feeling premature given his ongoing desire to push the genre forward.

A Night in Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans
Rebirth Brass Band with special guests from New Orleans
Friday, November 11, 8 pm
Hill Auditorium

The Treme (pronounced truh-MAY) neighborhood of New Orleans has been a source of African-American music and culture for as long as cooks in the Crescent City have been serving red beans and rice on Monday nights. Birthplace of the great New Orleans brass band tradition and one of the first black neighborhoods in America, Treme is the heartbeat of New Orleans and the home to Congo Square. In conjunction with the airing of the second season of the HBO series, which follows a variety of New Orleanians as they try to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, this concert features the legendary Rebirth Brass Band, known for combining traditional New Orleans brass band music, including the New Orleans tradition of second line with funk, jazz, soul, and hip-hop influences.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis, artistic director and trumpet
Wednesday, February 22, 7:30 pm
Hill Auditorium

The February 2010 snowstorm was about the only thing that could keep Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra away from Ann Arbor! Despite one of the most aggressive touring schedules in the business, JLCO makes each concert fresh, drawing in audiences who are continually energized and amazed by the group’s depth of outrageous talent.

Charles Lloyd Quartet
Charles Lloyd, tenor saxophone and flute
Jason Moran, piano
Reuben Rogers, bass
Eric Harland, drums

Saturday, April 14, 8 pm
Michigan Theater

Forty years ago, saxophonist Charles Lloyd was a pop star; his 1966 album, Forest Flower, sold a million copies. Four years ago, at 69, when most individuals are thinking of ways to slow down and kick back, Charles Lloyd shifted to a higher gear and formed a new quartet. Lloyd has always led exceptional bands, and this is perhaps the best. With 2010 MacArthur Fellow Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums, the Quartet’s concerts are events of pristine beauty and elegance, full of intensely felt emotion and passion that touches deep inside the heart.

Return to the complete chronological list.

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