Best New Jazz Arrival, Sort of

Jason Moran
You won’t find the great young piano player and brilliant conceptualist Jason Moran commanding the bandstands of D.C.’s jazz clubs and festivals—no more often, at least, than he already does. But his is nonetheless an unavoidable presence on the city scene, along with his taste, outlook, and formidable knowledge of the music. In November Moran was named artistic advisor for jazz at the Kennedy Center, an institution whose jazz programming has long been known for its vanilla programming, an excellent but predictable stable of mainstream players with tried-and-true repertoires. Moran, however, is neither vanilla nor predictable. Since his arrival, the Kennedy Center’s schedule has already seen the addition of less-established, edgier players (pianist Aaron Parks) and known commodities taking chances with new projects (saxophonist Antonio Hart and his “Organ Group”). Thanks to Moran, one of America’s foremost “prestige” jazz venues is breaking exciting new ground.