I certainly have a lot of great music to be thankful for this year. Sunday night, the last night of his SF Jazz residency, Jason Moran played a solo set, and then introduced the duo of Randy Weston and Billy Harper. A 2010 MacArthur fellow, the 37 year old Moran is at the forefront of modern music, and is perhaps the most gifted pianist of his generation. Paying homage to Monk and Ellington and Weston, he has forged his own style at once modern (he plays along with pre-recorded samples on some songs - delta blues to Pigmeat Markham!) while demonstrating a remarkable depth of knowledge of the many branches of jazz piano, from bebop to stride.
Randy Weston, an NEA 2001 Jazz Master, has combined a love of Monk and modern music with a profound love and curiosity of African culture. Billy Harper has been my (and Baron Shul's) favorite tenor player since we first heard his Black Saint recording in 1975. Weston and Harper together are powerful, spiritual, lyrical, and breathtaking. Like Ellington, they can go from penthouse blues to rent party inside of one phrase.