Jason Moran Since his formidable emergence on the music scene in the late 90s, pianist Jason Moran has become a leading light and a man to watch in modern jazz. In almost every category that matters—improvisation, composition, group concept, repertoire, technique and technological experimentation, Moran compliments and ups the ante for all realms of today’s jazz.
Moran, a Houston native, graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 1997. He made his professional debut later that year on Greg Osby’s 1997 Blue Note Records Live CD titled Further Ado. That cameo brought Moran’s skills and jazz elegance to the attention of Blue Note Record’s executives who signed the pianist to his own record deal shortly thereafter.
His debut, Soundtrack To Human Motion, defined Moran’s own course with a set consisting almost entirely of original compositions. On his sophomore release, Facing Left, the first recording that found him in the company of Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, Moran began expanding his song-palette by making seemingly exotic yet astute choices in material that mark a bolder, generational bend. Past selections include Bjork’s “Joga” (brought into jazz consideration on Facing Left) and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock,” which Moran has now twice recorded -- first on his solo piano studio album Modernistic and then on The Bandwagon, his group’s live album from The Village Vanguard Jazz club in New York City. His seventh recording, Artist in Residence, is available in stores now.
Since being awarded the Jazz Journalists Association’s “Up-n-Coming Jazz Musician” for 2003, Playboy magazine’s first ever Jazz Artist of the Year in 2005 and numerous other jazz recognition awards, Moran has been a 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. In 2001, Moran took over the award responsibilities in a commitment to education.
“I came up through jazz education, came to New York to study at Manhattan School of Music, but I think a lot of my schoolmates took the rules too seriously. Therefore their personality was put on the backburner,” Moran says. “I knew that was not the correct route. People like Jaki Byard taught me that you could learn the tradition, adhere to the rules just so much, and the music will never imprison you.”
Bruce Lundvall graduated from Bucknell University with a B.S. in Commerce and Finance. The day after he got out of the service he called an old college chum, Michael Berniker—later a colleague at Columbia Records, then at EMI— who helped hook him up with his first position at Columbia in the marketing department. He stayed at Columbia Records for 21 years, eventually becoming President of the domestic division of CBS Records, a time in which he built Columbia’s jazz roster into the largest of any major label. He then moved to Elektra in 1982, where he became president of the newly created Elektra/ Musician label, as well as Senior Vice President of Elektra/Asylum. The next year, Lundvall became president of the reconstituted Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch label, signing Howard Jones, Bill Laswell, Steel Pulse and Ruben Blades.
In 1984, he was approached with an offer to create Manhattan, a pop music label based on the East Coast, for EMI, as well as to revive the legendary, long-suspended Blue Note jazz label. He jumped at the opportunity. By 1986, Manhattan had copped numerous Grammy Awards and Blue Note was named Label of the Year by two jazz magazines.
After four-decades-plus, Lundvall has amassed awards that reflect his stature. He’s been Chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); Chairman of the Country Music Association (CMA); Director of the National Association of Recording Artists and Science (NARAS); Director of the T.H. Martell Foundation for Leukemia Research, the industry’s most prestigious charity, and most recently, The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. In 1996, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America and the Russ Sanjek Award, for major contributions to recording art who are not primarily A&R producers. He’s landed three Grammy nominations and a NARM presidential award.