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Same Mother (2004)

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Tarus Mateen

Boundary-pushing pianist Jason Moran expands his sound yet again with a blend of modern electric and acoustic blues on Same Mother. Featuring longtime bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, Moran's seventh album also includes guitarist Marvin Sewell. An equally adventurous musician, Sewell adds a modern blues sound to Moran's usual mélange of post-bop, classical, New Orleans jazz, and funk. The results are raw, inspired, and frankly not wholly pleasing as Sewell's crisp acoustic attack does not always blend well with Moran's equally naked piano chops. However, for fans of both forward-thinking jazz and roots music, Same Mother -- a conceptual nod to the unifying notion that we are all ultimately descended from one mother -- holds considerable surprises. Notably, Moran's "Gangsterism On the Rise" is a bumptiously funky avant-garde ride, while his "G Suit Salvation" finds the group wading deep into softly experimental Pat Metheny waters. Similarly, the atmospheric, Arabic-influenced "Restin'" and "Field of the Dead" (which Moran deftly co-opts from Sergei Prokofiev's 1938 score for the Sergei Eisenstein film Alexander Nevsky) are darkly epic country-death ballads featuring Sewell's moaning acoustic slide guitar. ~ Matt Collar