Featured Profile

Jason Moran
Jazz Pianist

Jason Moran was born January 21, 1975 in Houston, Texas. He began studying the piano at age 6, but longed to quit the instrument until he first experienced the sounds of jazz legend Thelonious Monk, an experience that renewed his interest in music and established an early role model in his creative development.

Moran went on to attend Houston’s High School for the Performing and Visual Arts where he became an active member of the jazz program, playing in the big band and leading a jazz quartet. His aspirations and talents eventually led him to New York City where he continued his education at the Manhattan School of Music.  It was during this time that Moran also took lessons from other forward-thinking pianists such as Muhal Richard Abrams and Andrew Hill, creative musicians who imparted a profound influence on Moran, and encouraged him to find his own distinct voice.

In 1997, while Moran was still a senior in college, the drummer Eric Harland, a high school classmate of Moran’s, recommended him to saxophonist Greg Osby who was in the process of assembling a band for a European tour. Osby hired Moran based solely on Harland’s description of his playing, and the match proved to be auspicious. The connection between Osby and Moran was present as soon as they hit the bandstand, and Moran has become a fixture in Osby's touring and recording bands ever since.  Moran made his professional recording debut on Osby’s 1997 Blue Note CD,  Further Ado, which brought him to the attention of Blue Note executives who signed the pianist to his own record deal shortly thereafter.

Moran has performed as a sideman with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Lovano, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, Lee Konitz, Von Freeman, Ravi Coltrane, and Stefon Harris. He was the youngest honoree of the New Work Commission by the San Francisco Jazz Festival. He was also awarded a grant from Chamber Music America’s "New Works: Creation and Presentation" program, which is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. For these two grants Moran used sampled conversations as vocal triggers. These compositions would be the foundation for many of Moran’s new compositions. Jazziz magazine wrote “Moran is blessed with the courage of his own convictions—part scavenger and part seer, fluent in the cut/paste/splice devices of hip hop production….”

He has been lecturer/instructor at Banff Center for The Arts (’03,’04), Denmark’s’ Vallekilde Jazz Camp (’03), Skidmore (’00), Manhattan School of Music (’02-’04), The New School (’04) and his alma-mater, HSPVA (High School for the Performing and Visual Arts). In 1994, Moran’s family created HSPVA’s “Moran Scholarship Award,” which is awarded to an outstanding junior and senior in jazz. Moran took over responsibility in 2001 as a commitment to education.


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