Jazz is about manipulating information. There is information in the composition. If the player leads a group, he is reacting to information from the rhythm section at every second while he puts out further information. And if the player tries to engage with the present, he must deal with several decades of jazz as well as a lot of other music that has happened alongside jazz.
Ten is a jazz CD for an age of rapid information. And if more than one track builds from a calm start to a frenzied middle section before finally settling down again, that may be Jason Moran’s way of expressing the challenge of staying on top of it all.
Aside from this, Moran and his trio, The Bandwagon, betray little unease with handling information on this disc. There are influences from multiple quarters, ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Conlon Nancarrow to (in a daringly rearranged “Crepuscule With Nellie”) Thelonious Monk. The modern culture references and clamorousness recall the Bad Plus, but unlike them, Moran’s trio also can tap into a relaxed funk. Moran’s line building, and his ability to pull out an unexpected rapid run or bold chordal color in the middle of a sedate passage, sometimes brings to mind Keith Jarrett, but, in tracks like the hip-hop tinged “_Gangsterism_ Over 10 Years,” Moran engages with the street in a way Jarrett chooses never to do.
Moran, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits have created a jazz CD for modern times. Fortunately, the group can not only deal with information, but create a program with enough melody and variety to be as enjoyable as it is educational.