Last night I saw Jason Moran and the Bandwagon and The Bad Plus at the Blue Note. They say the Blue Note is a tourist club. Boy are they right! There were so many people standing in line who had literally no idea who they were going to see. All they knew was that their tour books had directed them there - many Americans but also many Japanese as the Blue Note is a much more recognizable brand in that country (multiple locations exist throughout the country - in Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and of course Tokyo.
It was my first time seeing a show at the famed "Blue Note" since in the past their line-ups have seemed slightly less than impressive. Some call it pandering to the masses. Others call it staying in business. But I have to commend their programming for the month of September - all actual jazz acts. Wish I'd been up last weekend to see Scofield's trio with Steve Swallow and Bill Stewart. I'm still waiting for another album from them. Given Sco's new freedom from an exclusive label contract, maybe they'll do it on Swallow's XtraWatt label (a subdivision of ECM which he, Carla Bley, Michael and Karen Mantler and a couple others record on). It would probably have to be a Swallow date comparable to the situation where Swallow took a trio through Europe in 2002 and documented his work with Chris Potter and Adam Nussbaum on Damaged in Transit (2004).
Anyways, both bands played their asses off. Moran is an intense cat and The Bandwagon (which consists of Tarus Mateen on electric bass and Nasheet Waits on drums) is equally focused. There were definite highs and lows - dynamically, rhythmically, and stylistically. Moran is perpetually in the moment; reacting to everything including the noises of shaken martinis and clanging dishes. But particularly impressive are his bursts of furious right hand flights which not only boast technique but point to the beat subdivisions going on in his head.
The program began with Moran Tonk Circa 1936" from the 2001 album Modernistic. I believe that was followed by "Arizona Landscape" or "He puts on his coat and leaves..." from the new album, Artist in Residence (which came out Sept. 12).
Mateen is sort of an enigma. He is a guy I don't really get despite having llstened to this group for some time. It's not that I don't like his playing, which I do. It's just a bit too unstructured and incongruent for me to understand. Very infrequently does he play a groove except maybe on Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" which they played followed by a seamless segue into "Moon River" ("Planet Rock" was also recorded on Moran's solo album Modernistic).
For the rest, which I take it was essentially the same every night, see Darcy's appraisal which is far better than anything I could write now (not having taken notes).
So yeah. That's all I feel like writing about this event. However, that night that I was there I finally got to meet my fellow blogger, Ethan, who told me he'd be taking JaMo back to his dressing room to talk music for his blog. And that they did.