Jason Moran brings Fats Waller back to life
Back at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern for another night of legendary jazz, but where else in Toronto would you go to find them? This Wednesday night in particular of TD Jazz Festival, was to hear soulful jazz created by Texan pianist Jason Moran, with the vocal stylings of Meshell Ndegcello.
Moran did a great job of bringing Fats Waller, the legendary jazz pianist that died in the early 50s, and his magical music back to life.
This Moran-Ndegcello Fats Waller Dance Party was originally commissioned by Harlem Stage as part of the Harlem Jazz Shrine Festival, since it was received so well that they decided to bring it to the Toronto Jazz Festival on June 26.
When you put the likes of Jason Moran and Meshell Ndegcello on the same stage together you are bound to get something truly awe inspiring combine that with a trumpet, bass and drums now you’ve got something quite the recipe from some amazing soulful jazz improvisation.
Upon taking the stage Ndegcello asked the lighting guy to bring the lights
Down… After he did so to the right degree, she said to the audience “You see, with the right mood lighting, people are able let themselves feel the music.”Throughout the evening’s performance, Ndegcello would do many what seemed like spoken word breaks, but what they really were, were the introductions to songs like “Honeysuckle Rose,” and “Two Sleepy People,” and these beginnings were accompanied by Moran performing on either his Fender Rhodes or Yamaha Baby Grand, with support from the rest of the band who knew exactly when to join and how much energy to give to the piece.
Over the course of the evening, Ndegcello swapped out her vocal duties with
Lisa Harris for that of a bass guitar and let Harris’ voice and Moran’s fingers move the diverse crowd.
Moran showed his ability to innovate and create on the piano by letting Ndegcello and the rest of the band go off on a brilliant musical tangent and then jump in and out of the song at will. While donning the Waller head Moran produced an incredible live music experience for all in attendance.And Moran wasn’t done yet, he then proceeded to do a mash-up melding sounds from throughout jazz’s history, all while simultaneously playing his Yamaha baby grand and Fender Rodes electric all while in his Fats Waller persona.
Moran then removed his Fats Waller headpiece, reached for a mic and
thanked Ndegcello, his band and the audience.
This evening was a delightful, joyous and gracefully foolish evening filled with innovative live jazz music, It was what you can expect from the jazz expert Jason Moran.
Story and photos by Tee Onek