Grammar is a documentary film about the evolution of jazz and hip hop as portrayed through the artistic collaborations of Jason Moran. By far one of the most talented musicians working in jazz today, Jason is creating musical history by blurring the boundaries between jazz, hip hop, and performance and visual art. Through his collaborations with artists as diverse as Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Glenn Ligon, Kara Walker, Adrian Piper, Alicia Hall Moran and Joan Jonas, what jazz is transcends the confines of nightclubs and concert halls and reveals a latent synergy that has been decades in the making. Your support of Grammar will continue to allow us to document this history as it unfolds.
Our documentary will:
- Demonstrate how Jason's hybrid sense of musicality is signifying a foundational shift in how we define jazz music today. Jazz never truly ceased to be America's most popular art form, and we seek to reveal the ways in which the nature of jazz is implicit within the language of creative and artistic expression.
- Examine the relationship between contemporary jazz and hip hop through Jason's novel form of percussive playing and use of digital sampling (this style being informed by his coming of age during the emergence of electro music, 80’s funk, house, M-Base and the culture of hip hop)
- Anticipate Jason's future trajectory as a performer and educator
- Appeal to a wide audience and attract connoisseurs of hip hop culture, jazz aficionados and those who appreciate the various artistic mediums of Jason's collaborators
Jason Moran is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow and the triple-crown winner of Downbeat Magazine's 2011 Critics Poll. A graduate of the acclaimed jazz programs at the Manhattan School of Music and Houston’s High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Jason currently presides as the Kennedy Center's Artistic Advisor for Jazz and serves on the piano faculty of the New England Conservatory. Moreover, while his trio The Bandwagon (bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits) is routinely lauded for its innovative musicianship, it’s quite clear that what matters most to this pianist is the preservation of the creative legacy imparted by his legendary mentors Jaki Byard, Andrew Hill, and Muhal Richard Abrams.
WHAT WE'VE DONE SO FAR
We have been documenting Jason since January 2011. Now with hundreds of hours of footage detailing his creative processes including commissioned pieces and works in progress (in addition to rehearsals and performances), we've begun to successfully construct a visual narrative for Grammar. The excerpt below demonstrates the scope and direction in which this film is moving. We're absolutely thrilled with how it has come together so far.
WHAT THE MONEY WILL BE USED FOR
In order to expand our ideas and capture Jason's eclecticism to its fullest extent, it is imperative that we continue to film his collaborations and conduct interviews until the fall of 2013. To capture high quality audio and video for a typical performance, in addition to travel expenses, we need a 2-4 person crew of camera operators and a sound mixer/recordist. In the meantime, our editor Anthony Gannon will begin the process of editing our footage. We are aiming to complete the documentary in late 2013.
Notable upcoming performances and interactions we'd like to document:
- European tour dates this summer, including Kassel Germany's dOCUMENTA (13) and Jason's appearances with legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd
- Dialogue with Jason and other jazz innovators such as Robert Glasper, Matthew Shipp, Jamire Williams, Steve Lehman and Vijay Iyer
- Interviews with New York-based producers and MCs responsible for hip hop's "Golden Era" (for example, Diamond D, Prince Paul, Pete Rock, Large Professor and DJ Premier)
- (40 days)