Passing the torch to Moran is quite logical. Perhaps more familiar as a protégé of Jaki Byard, Moran traces his lineage back to Billy Taylor as well. At age 16, Jason attended a master class from Taylor at his high school, and his first performance at Kennedy Center came in 1998 through a program to identify young talent. Moran has long considered Taylor a mentor. At a certain point, my generation has to stand up to continue to hand down the information that has been given to us. Billy has been a person who bridged the gap between jazz and the American public ... So that's the thing I want to continue to model in whatever I do."
Moran of course is a 21st century musician known more for his advanced approaches to improvisation than traditional bop and swing. But Kennedy Center director Kevin Strutherrs noted that we have selected someone who is firmly rooted in the traditions of the music...It is important that we pay homage to the past, and I think Jason does that through his music, but he puts it in a contemporary setting." Given his ongoing work with his famed Band Wagon trio and on the piano bench for the ever-exploring Charles Lloyd, we should expect that contemporary setting" to just expand further with Moran advising one of the most influential music programs in the country.
Photo: Jason Moran, at the Dakota Jazz Club with the Charles Lloyd Quartet in fall 2010. (Photo by Andrea Canter)