A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014. Sometimes jazz has to open doors to invite new fans and listeners in, an idea that visionary pianist Jason Moran approaches squarely and adroitly on All Rise. It’s an album unlike anything else he has produced. Earthy backbeats, breathless vocals by bassist and co-producer Meshell Ndegeocello and Lisa E. Harris, along with Moran’s own gutsy use of electric keyboards help fuel the hyper-modern re-imagining of the music of Fats Waller. Originally conceived and produced as a Harlem stage project called the Fats Waller Dance Party, this studio recording evolves out of the historical perspective that jazz once was and can still be “dance music.” Calling Waller “a special kind of provocateur” who sang and MC’d as well as played piano, and who also maintained a running commentary on what was going on around him, Moran and company (including his Bandwagon trio, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits) transform a well known Waller repertoire into groove-based gems that still give the leader space to expand the music creatively (he kisses his solo stride piano with a synthesized rush on “Handful Of Keys,” for instance). The most arresting tracks give Moran and Ndegeocello a shining platform – the irresistible pop and snap on “The Joint Is Jumpin’,” the chilled out vocals behind “Honeysuckle Rose” and the righteous bass and beats with a gospel spin on “Jitterbug Waltz.” Much like Terri Lynn Carrington’s career-defining Money Jungle: Provocative In BlueAll Rise proves you can be boldly crowd-pleasing while slyly giving us a valuable music history lesson we can also dance to. (12 tracks; 42 minutes)

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