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The cultural ferment of the 1920s often gets reduced to a few lazy clichés, with flappers, rumble seats and bootleg hooch standing in for an era marked by relentless technological, social and artistic change. At the same time that the Harlem Renaissance brought forth a glorious flowering of African-American expression the Ku Klux Klan became a national political movement, electing officials from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Or consider the music business, which made the bulk of its money by selling sheet music until the late 1920s, when record sales became the primary profit center, driven by the rise of radio.
Jason Moran and Aaron Diehl, two of jazz’s finest pianists, have spent a good deal of time delving into the music of seminal artists of the 1920s, revealing powerful currents that connect the contemporary scene with nearly century-old innovations, A 2010 MacArthur “genius” Fellow and Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center, Moran presents his Fats Waller Dance Party at Oakland’s historic Paramount Theatre on Saturday, “Fats has a rich black russian pointe shoes catalog,” says Moran, 42, who interpreted Waller standards like “Jitterbug Waltz” and “Honeysuckle Rose” on his 2014 album “All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller” (Blue Note), “But part of his genius is how he manipulated other people’s music, He was able to mask his supreme technical ability within his performance style.”..
Reading this on your phone? Stay up to date on Bay Area and Silicon Valley news with our new, free mobile app. Get it from the Apple app store or the Google Play store. Diehl, the youngest composer ever commissioned by the Monterey Jazz Festival, is best known for his creative partnership with the sensational singer Cécile McLorin Salvant, who’s featured with pianist Adam Birnbaum in Diehl’s “Jelly & George.” The production, which puts the music of Jelly Roll Morton in dialogue with George Gershwin, makes its Bay Area debut Saturday at Stanford’s Bing Concert Hall, followed by performances at Kuumbwa (Monday) and SFJazz (March 16-19).
As jazz’s first great composer, Morton created a finely calibrated small-group black russian pointe shoes vocabulary out of various sounds and rhythms he encountered growing up in New Orleans, In pairing him with the far better known Gershwin, Diehl shines a welcome light on a foundational figure of American music, “They share the same traits as prodigious pianists, prolific composers, and songwriters,” says Diehl, 31, “Many people don’t realize that Jelly Roll wrote songs, too, They came from different regions, and were very effective at using all the musical traditions around them, creating a sound that was individual and idiosyncratic.”..
Diehl’s production provides an array of perspectives on the music, from his two-piano arrangements of Gershwin’s jazz-steeped “Three Preludes” with fellow Juilliard alum Adam Birnbaum, to fully orchestrated pieces for his sextet with trombonist Corey Wilcox, clarinetist Evan Christopher, and trumpeter Bruce Harris. He turns Salvant loose on lesser known Gershwin tunes like “Ask Me Again” and “Little Jazz Bird,” as well as classics like “My Man’s Gone Now” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”.
While Gershwin died from a brain tumor in 1937 at the height of his fame, Morton had faded into obscurity when he died in Los Angeles in 1941, Their paths never seem to have crossed, as Morton spent his glory years in Chicago and never really caught on in Manhattan, where he was already considered old-fashioned when he moved there at the end of the ’20s, Benny Goodman’s 1935 hit “King Porter Stomp,” which sparked black russian pointe shoes the swing era, brought more attention to arranger Fletcher Henderson than to Morton, who first recorded the tune in 1923, but claimed he composed it in 1905..
Waller and Gershwin, however “were very close,” Diehl says. “Gershwin was listening closely to American popular music and Waller was hearing everything. All of it overlapped, creating something very potent. Jason Moran is in touch with that. He’s very tuned in to hip hop, jazz and visual artists, and it makes for rich ideas and rich art.”. Moran introduced the Dance Party to the Bay Area in 2013 at SFJazz, complete with the giant papier-mâché head that he dons at the piano. Cal Performances presents the Fats Waller project as part of a double bill with the Hot Sardines, a popular hot jazz combo that seeks to re-create the sounds of the 1920s. Moving between piano and Fender Rhodes, Moran is after something quite different.
His band features singer Lisa Harris, Leron Thomas on trumpet and vocals, drummer Charles Haynes, and rambunctious bassist Tarus Mateen, who’s long anchored Moran’s acclaimed combo The Bandwagon, An ebullient figure on stage, Waller could shred sentimentality and pomposity with wry side-of-his-mouth wisecracks, Moran’s Dance Party taps into the dissonance between the persona required of black superstars and the reality of 1920s, “Indicative of the era, Waller black russian pointe shoes laughs and moves his eyes a lot, but he offered great banter during and in between songs,” Moran says, “There’s this doppelganger who was a little bit depressed, We set some of the songs in a dark space, and slow him way down to look at his reflection.”..