In My Mind: Monk @ Town Hall 1959
DUKE PERFORMANCES PREMIERE: SAT, OCT 27, 2007
In this world-premiere performance, piano prodigy, gifted composer, and heir to the Monk tradition Jason Moran brought together a ten-piece band to debut a new, full-length original piece on October 27, 2007 at Page Auditorium as part of Duke Performances’ six-week Following Monk series. IN MY MIND was inspired by Thelonious Monk’s legendary 1959 Town Hall show, based on W. Eugene Smith’s documentary photographs and recordings and Moran’s 2007 pilgrimage to Monk’s ancestral home in North Carolina. Moran’s work incorporated live performance, projected video, and recorded music samples to reflect on the Rocky Mount master’s historical legacy.
Barely more than thirty years old, Moran’s nimble, unapologetically eclectic piano style has won him awards, appreciation, and comparisons to Monk, whom Moran cites as the reason he started piano in the first place. Moran, “the latest in a long line of brilliant jazz pianists with idiosyncratic ideas about performance,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, has a “riveting” playing style that brims with “sheer physicality…even athleticism.” IN MY MIND was commissioned by Duke Performances, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, Washington Performing Arts Society, SF Jazz, and Jazz at Symphony Center.
In February 2009, Duke Performances and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke presented the New York premiere of Moran’s IN MY MIND at Town Hall, as well as a second evening featuring Charles Tolliver’s tentet performing his note-for-note arrangement of Monk’s 1959 show, entitled “Monk at Town Hall, 1959: Reviving a Landmark.”
Center for Documentary Studies instructors Gary Hawkins and Emily LaDue, in collaboration with Duke students from their Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking course, documented Moran’s Town Hall premiere for a documentary film also entitled IN MY MIND.
“The concert could have been grandiose or pretentious or arbitrary. Instead it was honest and structurally sound; it had a magical balance of theory and intuition, and the crowd stayed fully with it.”The New York Times
Jason Moran, piano
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Logan Richardson III, alto saxophone
Walter Smith III,tenor saxophone
Isaac Smith, trombone
Bob Stewart, tuba
Tarus Mateen, bass
Nasheet Waits, drums
Commissioned by Duke Performances and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke, Washington Performing Arts Society, SF Jazz, and Jazz at Symphony Center.
IN MY MIND uses archival materials courtesy of the W. Eugene Smith Archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, the Heirs of W. Eugene Smith & the Jazz Loft Project.
- Duke Chronicle, Thelonious Monk focus of 6-week, 18-event tribute at Duke University
- The Guardian, A return to Town Hall for Moran by Jason Moran
- The New York Times, 2 Approaches to Monk’s Historic Night
- The Wall Street Journal, Monk’s Town Hall Concert Reborn, Reworked
- New York Magazine, The Jazz Standard
- All About Jazz, Jason Moran Returns to Monk at Town Hall
- International Music Network, Moran Unveils in my Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959
- CVNC, In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959
- Sam Stephenson, IN MY MIND – The Long Road to a New, Exciting JLP Outcome
- INDY Week, A Duke historian unearths a motherlode of forgotten jazz recordings