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Same Mother by Jason Moran

Jason Moran is a very talented jazz piano player, who has been working in professional music since 1997. His style is classic jazz and improvisational, while being influenced by Thelonious Monk. Jason was recently named Playboy Magazine's first ever Jazz Artist of the Year (2005). "Same Mother" is his sixth release on Blue Note.

Jason Moran opens this disc with "Gangsterism On The Rise", an upbeat improvisational piece, which borders on chaos. Drummer Nasheet Waits is all over the place, and it sounds great. Jason is slammin’ on the piano, and everything seems to work within the context. Only problem is you don’t hear much bass or guitar on this opening track. But still, a great opener to this exciting disc. "Jump Up" follows and assumes a bouncy up-tempo blues groove (almost a New Orleans vibe), with the frequent change up of the beat. Just when you get you head bouncing and think you’ve got it figured out, Jason and his group throw an odd beat in here and there. Very aggressive piano work, solid electric blues guitar with the occasional feature, and drums and bass somehow holding it all together. "Aubade" slows things down, and opens with just guitar and piano. Very nice piece, highlighting Jason’s mastery of piano along with Marvin Sewell’s fine acoustic guitar. Solid soft piece, reminding me of a quiet dinner. "G Suit Saltation" opens with the quartet improvising, but then settles into a classic jazz feel. The walking bass line helps to add the classic feel, but Jason throws plenty of improv space into the arrangement. A nice clean electric guitar feature is a highlight of this track. "I’ll Play The Blues For You" has a straight Texas blues mid tempo groove to it, while not compromising Jason’s style. Marvin does a great gutsy electric solo, while Tarus (bass) and Nasheet (drums) hold down a solid groove. This one sounds like everyone had a great time, especially Jason. "Fire Waltz" opens with Jason on piano, and settles into an up-tempo classic piano jazz piece with various improvisational moments. Bassist Tarus Mateen gets featured on this one, and he takes the opportunity to go a bit crazy on the acoustic bass. The track leads directly into "Field Of The Dead" with some interesting dobro type slide guitar, while the others improvise over slow hanging chords. This sounds almost completely improvised, and leans heavily towards chaos while maintaining a level of arrangement. "Restin’" slows things down quite a bit, and gives a chance for the band to dabble in ambiance. Marvin works with harmonics and swells on the guitar, while Jason dabbles with various chords. Tarus and Nasheet are heard improvising slightly in the background. Different from what we’ve heard so far, but very interesting. "The Field" is a pure solo piano feature, with Jason showing us a bit of why his name is on the CD. Outstanding, expressive, and dynamic jazz piece. In my mind, this is perfect solo piano jazz. Excellent and classy. The CD closes with "Gangsterism On The Set" and revisits the theme from the opening track. We have the improvisation elements of piano and drums working together, and this makes for a nice "book end" to the opening track. It ties the whole disc together nicely (but I still don’t hear any bass or guitar on this track, just like the opening).

Jason Moran is an outstanding pianist, and has impressed me. Although this is improvisational jazz, it does stick to a very classic framework while adding some blues. This is not anyway near "smooth" jazz, but I think it isn't too "far out" and would appeal to just about every jazz lover. I applaud Jason for combining elements of chaotic improvisation with elements of standard blues and classic jazz. This is a great disc, and is highly recommended for the fan of classic piano jazz in a quartet format. Don't miss your chance to hear this amazing talent.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Jason Moran
  • CD Title: Same Mother
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Blue Note
  • Tracks: Gangsterism On The Rise, Jump Up, Aubade, G Suit Saltation, I’ll Play The Blues For You, Fire Waltz, Field of The Dead, Restin’, The Field, Gangsterism On The Set
  • Musicians: Jason Moran (piano), Marvin Sewell (acoustic & electric guitars), Tarus Mateen, (acoustic & acoustic-electric bass), Nasheet Waits (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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