M’kina J. Tapscott
April 1, 2015
It opened with the sun, the searing, moist and radiating heat that is the weather trademark of Houston, TX. The celebrated jazz pianist and native Houstonian Jason Moran’s opus to this city begins with the ascending of the sun, that invited the Wrotham Theater’s packed audience to embark on this sentimental journey.
With a background in the visual artist, and as a self proclaimed, life-long hip hop aficionado, I’m left with feeling that my knowledge base cannot fully illuminate the beauty that Jason Moran creates with music. Yet, that is a powerful characteristic of Moran, that as a musician, he has the skill to gracefully unwrap the complexity and history of jazz music and invites all to enjoy.
Holed Up, the original music composition and production, by Jason Moran opened on Saturday, February 7th in the Cullen theater. On screen, the video designs created by visual artist Robert Pruitt, commenced with this singular celestial body. The rotating and undulating solar waves emoted a feeling of quintessential summer. Moran’s Holed Up, was a multi-media presentation, as homage to the city of Houston and inspired by Robert Rauschenberg’s Holiday Ruse (Night Shade), Sun Dancer and Signs.
The initial convergence of sounds, Holed Up Overture, with the Lightning Hopkins howl takes the audience from the southwestern sauna to the first songs in the series playlist Matter and Refraction. The transition was marked with sounds reminiscent of what can best be descried as nostalgic summer fun: train tracks and whistles, bicycle tires on neighborhood streets, and ice cream trucks.
Moran not only used the emotional qualities found in music and song, as a tool to engage and create remembrance, but continued that ideal in the establishment of the space, as our travels were delineated through the stage design. The Bandwagon musicians, Tarus Mateen on bass; and Nasheet Waits on drums, were linear in placements. This setup was likened to the long, narrowing roads, the miles of pavement and highway, and the distance from home.