Jason Moran: Sticking Tricks and Striking Chords

jasonMoranHere is something very hip from Nextbop. Last spring at SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, pianist and composer Jason Moran and his Bandwagon (with guitarist Jeff Parker) played as Bay Area skateboarders rode a mid-sized half-pipe situated in front of the stage. Recently in his studio, Moran took a break to talk with Lucy McKeon about the process and aesthetic of the skateboarding collaboration, the conceptualization of what a jazz performance can be, and what he’s working on now.

How did the idea to collaborate with the skaters come to be?

So anytime an institution approaches me about, “Oh will you do something for us? Or make a program for us?” I try to think about, very selfishly, what is my relationship to the city? And start there. So my relationship to San Francisco began when I was a kid, where my parents took us maybe two or three times in our young lives. One of those times we took our skateboards – we were way into skateboarding in Houston – black folks skateboarding, there weren’t many, and there was like one on a professional team, so… but we were all into it. All the cats in my neighborhood were all into skating so when they knew we were going to San Francisco they were like, “Oh shit!” So we brought our skateboards and went skating there.

So when the jazz people [of the San Francisco Jazz Center] came to me and said, “Can you curate two weeks of program?” I thought, “Let’s do something outside, have some ramps, and play for the skaters, like it’s an open jam session.” And they were like, “Oh, well we don’t know if we can do it outside, but we can do it inside.” So I was like, “Oh shit, that’s crazy!” So that’s really the genesis of it.

Click here to read Jason Moran: Sticking Tricks and Striking Chords

—Peter Blasevick