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

Loston Harris. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

The singer and pianist performs "Do Nothing 'Til You Hear From Me" with host Marian McPartland.

Loston Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/507397417/507539522" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

André Previn. Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon hide caption

toggle caption Harald Hoffmann/Deutsche Grammophon

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

André Previn On Piano Jazz

The conductor, composer and pianist plays a special treatment of "Stormy Weather" in a 1990 session.

André Previn On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/506487969/506720784" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Patti Wicks. Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

Hear the pianist and singer join Marian McPartland for a duet version of "Body And Soul."

Patti Wicks On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/505874280/505875288" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Grover Washington, Jr. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

The Grammy-winning saxophonist plays Duke Ellington standards with host Marian McPartland in 1994.

Grover Washington, Jr. On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504956273/504956800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Meredith D'Ambrosio appears on the cover of her 1981 album Another Time. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Meredith D'Ambrosio On Piano Jazz

The vocalist, pianist, visual artist and teacher joined Marian McPartland in 1994.

Meredith D'Ambrosio On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/504133599/504135813" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Lonnie Liston Smith on the cover of Astral Traveling (1973). Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Lonnie Liston Smith On Piano Jazz

One of contemporary music's most versatile keyboardists, Smith joined Marian McPartland in 2002.

Lonnie Liston Smith In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503335536/503336370" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Nellie Lutcher. William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Nellie Lutcher On Piano Jazz

Hear the vocalist and pianist play her original tunes "Hurry On Down" and "Real Gone Guy."

Nellie Lutcher On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/502487319/502603441" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top