This year marks the 10-year anniversary of The Bandwagon, a trio led by 35-year-old jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran. Moran has expanded jazz with elements of hip-hop and electronic music, creating a mix that critics have hailed as visionary. His latest recording is called "Ten." Critic Tom Moon has this review.

TOM MOON: Longevity means something in jazz. Because the music depends on exchange and interplay, groups that stay together for a while tend to have sharper instincts. Right now, there's no better illustration of this than The Bandwagon, the trio led by pianist Jason Moran and featuring bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits.

(Soundbite of music, "Gangsterism Over 10 Years")

MOON: In the decade these guys have been collaborating, they've developed a rowdy style of communication that's unique in jazz. This tune, an update of a Jason Moran original the group recorded early on, shows how the three seem to think together. Listen to how the drummer's syncopated jabs align perfectly with what Moran is playing.

(Soundbite of music, "Gangsterism Over 10 Years")

MOON: The Bandwagon renovates its share of jazz standards, but it's much more effective grappling with Jason Moran's tricky originals. At times, he writes the musical equivalent of advanced math equations.

(Soundbite of music, "Gangsterism Over 10 Years")

MOON: Jason Moran has been known to use sampled textures and even recordings of conversations as backdrops. This time, on a tune called "Feedback Pt. 2," his trio improvises in and around squeals from the guitar of Jimi Hendrix.

(Soundbite of music, "Feedback Pt. 2")

MOON: Moran has a theory about the group: It thrives because all three musicians are involved in lots of different projects. For Moran, that means film scores and ballet commissions. So it's something special whenever the three manage to get together and you can hear it.

Moran says that making this record was like hanging out with old friends. The three laughed, drank whiskey and ate barbecue. That's audible, too. Sometimes when jazz is this intricate, it can make your brain hurt. But with Moran and his crew, even the complicated stuff feels good.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Our critic is Tom Moon, and you can hear songs from Jason Moran and The Bandwagon's new album, "Ten," at

(Soundbite of music)


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