In My Mind: Thelonious Monk at Town Hall 1959 

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Jazz virtuoso Jason Moran, winner of a MacArthur “Genius” award and currently the Kennedy Center’s artistic director for jazz, took up piano because of Thelonious Monk.

In My Mind is Moran's multi-media tribute and re-creation of Thelonious Monk's legendary 1959 big band concert at New York's Town Hall. Incorporating live performance, video, still images, and audio recordings from W. Eugene Smith's Jazz Loft project, In My Mind is a "stunning project connecting with Monk beyond the surface of his music" (The New York Times). In this centenary year of Monk’s birth, Moran and the 10-piece Big Bandwagon will explore the roots and impact of an artist who Moran calls “the most important musician, period. In all the world, period.” 

 

JASON MORAN

Jason Moran, a pianist, composer and educator, grew up in Houston, Texas.  He began studying piano when he was six, but early on developed a strong interest in both hip hop and jazz and graduated from Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. He moved to New York and graduated from the Manhattan School of Music.  He started his professional career playing with Greg Osby, and his debut recording on Blue Note Records, Soundtrack to Human Motion, was released in 1999 to great critical praise.  The following year, Facing Left established his trio The Bandwagon, with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and prompted JazzTimes Magazine to declare the album "an instant classic.” and Rolling Stone to state “Jason Moran is shaping up to be the most provocative thinker in current jazz.”

Since his first album, Jason he has produced ten additional albums and six film soundtracks, including scores for Ava DuVernay’s films Selma and 13th. In 2007, Moran was commissioned to create IN MY MIND: Monk at Town Hall, 1959, producing a critically-acclaimed multi-media performance investigating Thelonious Monk’s famous recording, Monk at Town Hall. Recent releases include The Armory Concert (2016), Thanksgiving at the Vanguard (2017) and BANGS (2017) under his own label Yes Records. 

In 2010 Moran was awarded a MacArthur fellowship and in 2011 he was appointed Artistic Advisor to Jazz at The Kennedy Center.  By 2014 he was made Artistic Director for Jazz. Music education plays a central role in Moran’s life. He teamed up with Chicago high school students and artist Theater Gates to create Looks of a Lot, an evening length concert exploring the relationship of the blues to healing.  He has been on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music since 2010, and also teaches in Copenhagen at The Rhythm Conservatory. He lives with his wife , Alicia Hall Moran, in Harlem. 

Acknowledgements

This program is generously supported by the Koret Foundation and by National Endowment for the Arts. The Koret Jazz Project is a multiyear initiative to support, expand, and celebrate the role of jazz in the artistic and educational programming of Stanford Live.

        

Video

I was at SFJAZZ in 2007 when that organization commissioned and premiered In My Mind. It was an inspiring experience to be behind the scenes as Jason came to grips with his musical hero Thelonious Monk in two concerts, first recreating and then reimagining the famed 1959 Town Hall concert. The final result was a thrilling synthesis of image and music. Starting as homage, In My Mind takes that giant specter of influence and transforms it into Moran’s own multi-layered story of musical innovation and social critique."

 

—Laura Evans, Director of Engagement and Public Programs