Jason Moran (left), Alicia Hall Moran (center), The Bandwagon and Bill Frisell (right) perform at the KC Jazz Club. Scott Suchman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide caption

toggle caption
Scott Suchman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Jason Moran (left), Alicia Hall Moran (center), The Bandwagon and Bill Frisell (right) perform at the KC Jazz Club.

Scott Suchman/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater

Jason Moran's 'Live: Time On The Quilts Of Gee's Bend' Suite On JazzSetWBGO

The Philadelphia Museum of Art recently commissioned Jason Moran to write music in conjunction with its exhibition of quilts made by a remarkable group of African-American women in a small rural community on a bend in the Alabama River.

The quilting tradition there dates back to pre-Civil War days, when slaves began sewing together strips of whatever fabric they could find to make bed covers and keep their families warm. It's a unique style with bold geometric designs and colors, handed down from one generation to the next, from the hard years of tenant farming after the Civil War to the Civil Rights era. The isolation of the community made the quilt designs unique, and in time the artistic merits of the quilts from Gee's Bend received international recognition.

In September 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston hosted a special exhibition featuring quilts by Annie Mae Young, Loretta Pettway, Mary Lee Bendolph and others. The quilts proved so popular that they toured museums around the country. The U.S. Postal Service even issued commemorative postage stamps. New York magazine art critic Mark Stevens wrote, "The strikingly beautiful quilts just might deserve a place among the great works of 20th-century abstract art."

After receiving his commission, Moran, his wife Alicia Hall Moran and family members toured the quilters' homes and workshops, heard their stories and bought their own quilts. Here at the KC Jazz Club, Moran drapes his over a music stand, and members of The Bandwagon "play the quilt," improvising on the patterns. Bill Frisell sets aside his guitar to read his letter to Moran about Frisell's own visit to Gee's Bend — how he took the ferry but went too far and almost missed the warm welcome.

Alicia Moran's voice is the thread running through Live: Time, as she sings the quilters' songs, first recorded in the field in 1941 and compiled on How We Got Over: Sacred Songs of Gee's Bend. She tells the story of a fictional couple — Sidney and her man Clovis, shot by a gun. Rust-colored blood stains the geometric shapes of their bedspread, and love flows, too, but there's more to the story.

The short story "Cold Water for Blood Stains" is by Asali Solomon and featured in the Winter 2013 issue of The Kenyon Review.

Set List
  • "Let Me In / Restin'"
  • "Blue Blocks / Lazy Gal"
  • "Here Am I / Dear Lord"
  • "Crazy"
  • "This World Is A Mean World"
  • "Quilting / Playing The Quilt"
  • "You Ain't Got But One Life To Live / Live: Time"
Personnel
  • Jason Moran, composer and piano
  • Alicia Hall Moran, vocals
  • Bill Frisell, guitar
  • Tarus Mateen, bass
  • Nasheet Waits, drums
Credits

Thanks to the Kennedy Center Jazz team of Kevin Struthers, Jean Thill and Raynel Frazier. Recording by Greg Hartman of the Kennedy Center, Surround Sound remix by Duke Markos. Script for Live:Time is by Mark Schramm.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Terence Blanchard is the guest on this week's Piano Jazz. Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Henry Adebonojo/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

The Grammy award-winning trumpeter and composer joins Marian McPartland to perform standards like "I Thought About You" with bassist Gary Mazzaroppi.

Terence Blanchard On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/530240350/530241963" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Buster Williams performs at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola. Lawrence Sumulong /Courtesy of Jazz At Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong /Courtesy of Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Buster Williams: The Low End Maestro

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The low end has always been terra firma for Williams, one of the all-time great bassists in modern jazz. Hear highlights of a recent set with his post-bop ensemble, Something More.

Buster Williams: The Low End Maestro

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/528918610/528942262" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

T.S. Monk performs at the 2013 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz hide caption

toggle caption Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

T.S. Monk On Piano Jazz

The percussionist dedicated this 1995 set with host Marian McPartland to his father, Thelonious Monk.

T.S. Monk On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/528135123/528136364" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Carmen Cavallaro performs in 1971. Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Carmen Cavallaro On Piano Jazz

The pianist's tender style created an ideal atmosphere for romantics everywhere. In this 1989 session, he solos on his arrangement of a Cole Porter medley.

Carmen Cavallaro On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/527052788/527052981" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dee Dee Bridgewater performs at Jazz At Lincoln Center. Frank Stewart/Jazz At Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Frank Stewart/Jazz At Lincoln Center

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Fearless And Free

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

In words as well as music, hear how seriously Bridgewater takes her role as a music mentor and how it connects to her own experience in the jazz lineage.

Dee Dee Bridgewater: Fearless And Free

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/525854612/525857247" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

2017 NEA Jazz Masters Dave Holland, Dick Hyman, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Dr. Lonnie Smith (not pictured: Ira Gitler) at the 2017 NEA Jazz Masters Awards Dinner, sponsored by BMI, on April 2, 2017. Yassine El Mansouri/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center hide caption

toggle caption Yassine El Mansouri/Courtesy of the Kennedy Center

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

The 2017 NEA Jazz Masters, In Their Own Words

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Hear how the artists honored by the NEA this year — Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dave Holland, Dick Hyman and Ira Gitler — earned their stripes and paid their jazz dues.

The 2017 NEA Jazz Masters, In Their Own Words

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/524881192/524881250" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Trudy Pitts performs on this week's Piano Jazz. Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Lepley/Redferns/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

The organist performs Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" with Marian McPartland in this 1992 session.

Trudy Pitts On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/515756064/515756319" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Barry Harris is featured in this episode of Piano Jazz. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Barry Harris On Piano Jazz

The seminal jazz pianist and educator joined host Marian McPartland in the fall of 2002.

Piano Jazz: 2/3/2017

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/513227454/513227735" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top