Yeah, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller is a tribute to the great stride pianist, but in Jason Moran's hands, it's not what one would expect. This album isn't full of stride piano, but it is full of Fats Waller's larger persona as a performer. Waller mixed jokes and comic routines, and did whatever he could to connect with his audience in his act, and if his piano playing was the hinge, it sat on a door that opened straight to the dancefloor. This album had its beginnings when Moran was commissioned by the N.Y.C. performing arts venue Harlem Stage Gatehouse to create a tribute to Waller as part of its Harlem Jazz Shrines series.
“Hagar’s Song”, the newest release from long-time ECM luminary Charles Lloyd, is an interactive duo recording with Jason Moran, the pianist who has been a key member of Lloyd’s latter-day quartet, contributing to the albums Rabo de Nube (2008), Mirror (2010) and Athens Concert (2012). The album features pieces especially dear to Lloyd, ranging from compositions by Billy Strayhorn (“Pretty Girl” a/k/a “Star-Crossed Lovers”), Duke Ellington (“Mood Indigo”), George Gershwin (“Bess, You Is My Woman Now”) and Earl Hines (“Rosetta”) to a standard strongly associated with Billie Holiday (“You’ve Changed”), Brian Wilson’s most famous Beach Boys ballad (“God Only Knows”) and a Bob Dylan song definitively interpreted by the Band (“I Shall Be Released”).
Despite mixed reviews in publications, this album is absolutely mesmerising. There is something for everyone in this album; whether it's the song about the culture of America (Break Down) or the inspired national anthem (Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing), every song has the kind of genius ideas that we've come to expect of Jason Moran. Also, Cradle Song is a nice touch, a tribute to his mother, who recently passed away.
Birth of a great new band, captured live at New York’s celebrated Village Vanguard, with repertoire emphasizing Paul Motian’s wonderful ballad writing. New Motian tunes are juxtaposed with “Bird Song” (from “Tati”) and “Drum Music” and “Abacus” (first heard on Paul’s now legendary album “Le Voyage”). A free exploration of Irving Berlin’s “Be Careful It’s My Heart” completes a programme distinguished by gloriously supple playing from all three participants who are in tune at a high level. Or, as the New York Times noted, reviewing the concerts from which this album was drawn: “The accumulated wisdom within the band was clear.” (Source: jazzloft.com)