Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Black Stars

Posted By on Wed, Oct 3, 2001 at 12:00 AM

On his third album as a leader, 26-year-old pianist Jason Moran teams up with 77-year-old saxophonist Sam Rivers and it’s a perfect combination.

Moran is a deep-focus player, one who pays attention to both the foreground and backdrop of his solos, the most chordally piquant keyboardist to come along since the young Herbie Hancock. Rivers, by contrast, is a dedicated abstractionist with a craggy austerity whose most energized moments have always suggested the idea of action rather than uninhibited heat. But instead of clashing, his intellectually processed emotionalism and Moran’s prodding but essentially romantic style blend to make a rounded statement, both sensuous and thoughtful. On one of the two duet cuts here, Moran’s “Say Peace,” Rivers is ruminatively melodic while Moran makes grandly voluptuous gestures, the two arriving at an uncliched kind of beauty.

The rest are quartet (with Tarus Mateen, bass and Nasheet Waits, drums) and trio numbers, with highlight following highlight. Rivers, whose marathon free-form pieces of the ‘70s and ‘80s are modern classics, can still sprint like a youngster, still spill a wallow of notes without making a mess (on Moran’s “Foot Under Foot” and his own “Earth Song”). While Moran’s left-hand adventurism ensures that he’s never dull, even when sticking close to the theme, as on his witty reimaging of Ellington’s “Kinda Dukish,” or trotting out a neo-stride approach on his one solo outing, Jaki Byard’s “Out Front.”

Rivers also essays his somewhat academic flute and soprano sax stylings on a few cuts and drummer Waits should be singled out for his light, nearly lyrical accompaniment throughout. A great set.

Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for Metro Times. E-mail him at [email protected].


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Richard C. Walls

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2022 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation