Pianist and composer Jason Moran has established himself as a risk-taker and trendsetter for new directions in jazz. Rolling Stone calls him “the most provocative thinker in current jazz.” It’s that incomparable talent and unyielding drive towards innovation that earned Moran a prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship and the title of Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz. Since 2000, Moran and his trio The Bandwagon (Tarus Mateen and Nasheet Waits) have dazzled audiences at elite venues worldwide. Moran has also performed with many acclaimed artists such as Charles Lloyd and Dave Holland, he composed a ballet for Alzonzo King LINES Ballet, conceived a jazz and skateboarding collaboration, wrote the film score for Selma, and paid homage to two legendary pianists in his Blue Note album, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller, and his multimedia program, In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall 1959. A prolific composer, Moran released two albums in 2018 – Looks of a Lot, which was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Center, and Music for Joan Jonas, a collaboration with performance artist Joan Jonas containing excerpts from three of their major collaborations. The Los Angeles Times hails Moran, “a startlingly gifted pianist with a relentless thirst for experimentation.”
James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin
Composer, pianist, and visual artist Jason Moran reflects on the legacy of a hero of black music in a multidisciplinary program entitled, James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin. An iconic figure in the evolution of African-American music, ragtime pioneer, and World War I hero, James Reese Europe led a crack military ensemble called the Harlem Hellfighters. In addition to their achievements in combat, Europe and his Hellfighters popularized the new spirit of jazz in a war-torn French nation fascinated with black culture. And that’s only the beginning of their story – their legacy has had an extraordinary impact on African-American music over the past century of cultural and political change.
Moran’s innovative program features his Bandwagon bandmates – bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits – plus a seven-piece horn section, contributions from artist/writer/film director/screenwriter John Akomfrah, and visual materials from acclaimed cinematographer Bradford Young. It’s Moran’s response to Orlando Patterson’s concept of the “absence of ruin” – a musical monument to a vanishing African-American history. Of the US premiere, The Washington Post exclaims, “We already know that Jason Moran is stunningly and profoundly original, even in his treatment of existing material… Knowing it doesn’t prepare one for the stark, sublime beauty of ‘James Reese Europe and the Harlem Hellfighters: The Absence of Ruin.’”
James Reese Europe and the Absence of Ruin is co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin, Serious and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, with support from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and from the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Germany.
Single ticket prices:
General Public: $18
Senior Citizens (65+) and Amherst College Employees: $12
Students, with valid ID: $10
Amherst College Concert Office
P. O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Box Office Telephone: 413.542.2195
Email: concert (at) amherst (dot) edu