Japan is getting its first taste of Jason Moran’s performance concept “Skateboarding,” the jazz pianist and one-time skateboarder’s bid to blend live jazz and skateboarding culture.
Moran has influenced and gained the respect of world-renowned musicians and artists such as Robert Glasper and Charles Lloyd with his outstanding talent and technical prowess. Moran started the “Skateboarding” improvisation event in the hope of giving audiences a taste of the appeal of the two cultures he loves, jazz and skateboarding, via the creativity, physicality and improvisational qualities common to both. The pianist, who is also a composer and teacher, also hopes the project will bring about a new chemical reaction between the two genres.
So far, “Skateboarding” events have taken place at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, San Francisco’s SF Jazz Center and the National YoungArts Foundation in Miami. The Japan event will feature top Japanese musicians and professional skateboarders. Participating in the event’s first session in Japan are leading lights from the Japanese jazz world, drummer Shun Ishiwaka and bassist Takashi Sugawa, as well as internationally active professional skateboarder and big jazz fan Yoshiaki Toeda, one of Japan’s most talented skateboarders Kota Ikeda, and Ryuhei Kitazume, known for his amazing tricks on the board.
Moreover, the opening act at a Tokyo skate park will be a duo performance of a piece by jazz great Thelonious Monk, played by lofty pianist Dairo Suga with the already highly-regarded Moran.
This improvised session will be an unprecedented meeting of sports, street culture and live jazz, played out by top performers from two different scenes.
Jazz pianist, composer, and performance artist Jason Moran was born in Houston, TX in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is the Artistic Director for Jazz at The Kennedy Center. Moran currently teaches at the New England Conservatory. Moran is deeply invested in reassessing and complicating the relationship between music and language, and his extensive efforts in composition, improvisation, and performance are all geared towards challenging the status quo while respecting the accomplishments of his predecessors. His activity stretches beyond the many recordings and performances with masters of the form including Charles Lloyd, Bill Frisell, and the late Sam Rivers, and his work with his trio The Bandwagon (with drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Tarus Mateen) has resulted in a profound discography for Blue Note Records. The scope of Moran’s partnerships and music-making with venerated and iconic visual artists is extensive. He has collaborated with such major figures as Adrian Piper, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker; commissioning institutions of Moran’s work include the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Harlem Stage, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Moran has a long-standing collaborative practice with his wife, the singer and Broadway actress Alicia Hall Moran; as named artists in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, they together constructed BLEED, a five-day series of live music. BLEED explored the power of performance to cross barriers and challenge assumptions, and it was widely hailed as groundbreaking in the music and performance realm. In 2018, Moran had his first solo museum exhibition at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, which will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. A monographic publication accompanies the exhibition.
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