Jason Moran – Ten – Blue Note 509996 33765 2 4, 1 hour [6/22/10] ****:

(Jason Moran, piano/Tarus Mateen, bass/ Nasheet Waits, drums)

This is Moran’s first album in four years, and celebrates the tenth anniversary of his present piano trio, which he calls The Bandwagon. Moran is known for his experimentalism and it continues with this album, making it quite different from the usual jazz piano trio outing. There are occasional electronic and “found sounds” used.

Stylistic heirs of Jason’s are honored on the various tracks: Monk, Andrew Hill, Jack Byard, Jimi Hendrix, Bert Williams.  The one that really struck me was avant player piano composer Conlon Nancarrow.  Although he created his piano rolls because he felt no real musicians could possibly play his complicated multi-rhythms, a couple new music ensembles have now done so, and here is Moran with Nancarrow’s Study No. 6 – one of his most jazzy pieces.  Nancarrow’s original is followed by Moran’s improvisation on the work. Seven of the 13 tracks are Moran originals, one with a trenchant title that reminded me of Charles Mingus: RFK in the Land of Apartheid. He revives Leonard Bernstein’s tune written for Billie Holiday, Big Stuff. And Pas De Deux is part of a ballet score Moran composed. I don’t quite understand the final track, Old Babies. It opens with baby sounds, then a very long silence, before closing with an original jazz piano trio number.

TrackList:  Blue Blocks; RKF in the Land of Apartheid; Feedback Pt. 2; Crepuscule with Nellie; Study No. 6; Pas de Deux–Lines Ballet; Study No. 6; Gangsterism Over 10 Years; Big Stuff; Play to Live; The Subtle One; To Bob Batel of Paris; Old Babies.

– John Henry