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

Marty Napoleon. Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marty Napoleon On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist, who once played with Louis Armstrong's All Stars, duet with Marian McPartland.

Marty Napoleon In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/490624621/490631097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

David Sánchez. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

David Sánchez On Piano Jazz

The cosmopolitan saxophonist and his rhythm section join Marian McPartland for a set of standards.

David Sanchez In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/489759939/489765697" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cover art to The Great Kai and J.J., 1960. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Trombonist Vincent Gardner takes on the music of his instrument's bebop pioneer.

The Eminence Of J.J. Johnson, And His Partnership With Kai Winding

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488851522/488851879" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Marilyn Crispell. Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Claire Stefani/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Marilyn Crispell On Piano Jazz

The pianist plays free jazz with an evocative and disciplined style.

Marilyn Crispell In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/488725929/488823539" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Eric Reed. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Eric Reed On Piano Jazz

Hear the young pianist and composer give a solo performance of "Cedar's Blues" in a 1995 session.

Eric Reed In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487919012/487933490" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jacky Terrasson. Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Philippe Levy-Stab/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

Back in 1995, the young pianist demonstrated extraordinary talent on standards.

Jacky Terrasson On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/487065269/487071612" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Aaron Parks. Bill Douthart/Courtesy of ECM Records hide caption

toggle caption Bill Douthart/Courtesy of ECM Records

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Aaron Parks On Piano Jazz

The prolific pianist was still in his teens when he joined Marian McPartland for this 2001 session.

Aaron Parks In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/485228786/485229737" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Randy Weston. NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Jazz Night In America

Randy Weston At 90

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The eminent pianist was the guest of honor at this year's Panama Jazz Festival.

Randy Weston At 90

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/484419476/484422409" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Ray Charles and Marian McPartland. Courtesy of Vanguard hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Vanguard

Jazz Night In America

The Ray Charles Songbook

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Trumpeter Kenny Rampton launched his career with the great performer. He presents that music live.

The Ray Charles Songbook

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/484407414/484419129" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top