The Whitney To Present A Performance Series In Conjunction With Jason Moran

The Whitney Museum of American Art has announced a series of live performances and activations presented in conjunction with the exhibition Jason Moran. Featuring both renowned and emerging artists and ensembles, the series is curated by interdisciplinary artist Jason Moran (b. 1975) and Adrienne Edwards, the Whitney’s Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance. Moran’s eponymous solo museum exhibition, organized by the Walker Art Center, opens at the Whitney on September 20, 2019. Performances and activations include the Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon series, as well as two marquee events showcasing Moran in collaboration with artist Kara Walker, and three concerts with his long-running trio The Bandwagon, featuring bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. Advance tickets for select events are available at whitney.org.

Image credit: Jason Moran, STAGED: Slug’s Saloon, 2018 © Jason Moran; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York. Photograph by Farzad Owrang

The performance program commences with Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon. Cross-enerational artists activate Moran’s three mixed-media “set sculptures” —STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1 (2015), STAGED: Three Deuces (2015), and STAGED: Slugs’ Saloon (2018). Each installation pays homage to an iconic New York jazz venue. Eighty-two-year-old jazz saxophone legend Archie Shepp will be joined by Moran for an intimate in-gallery performance to launch the series on September 27 at 7 pm. Joanne Brackeen, Oliver Lake, Michela Marino Lerman’s Love Movement, Cecil McBee, Onyx Collective, Tiger Trio, Fay Victor, and Jamire Williams will also perform within the installations as part of the series.

The artist David Hammons once said to me during a dinner party: ‘Jazz should happen on a high floor…in the afternoon,’” explained Moran. “Hammons’s statement goes against the late-night, smoky basement, dimly lit, jam session club scene. These sessions, minus the smoke, happen every night here in New York. During the exhibition, musicians will come to perform on a high floor, with an understanding of the basement.

Taking jazz outside for a free outdoor event on the Museum’s largo on October 12, Moran joins artist Kara Walker for the New York debut of Katastwóf Karavan (2018), a steam-powered calliope housed in a parade wagon that will be installed and activated outside the Museum for a one-day-only presentation. Featuring the steam whistle typical of a calliope, the custom-fabricated instrument is programmed by Walker with a compilation of jazz, gospel, and songs that, in Walker’s words, represent both “Black protest and celebration.” During the Whitney activation, the calliope will play at set times throughout the afternoon on the Museum’s outdoor largo. Moran will play the calliope live at sunset.

Walker created Katastwóf Karavan for the Prospect.4 Triennial in New Orleans as a site-specific commission that debuted in 2018. Drawing on the calliope’s associations with nineteenth-century New Orleans riverboats, as well as the steam engine and other Industrial Revolution-era inventions like the cotton gin, the work’s layered references reveal connections between the history of the city’s cultural landscape and slavery in the American South. Walker conceived the caravan, with her signature silhouette imagery, in response to the inadequacy of a memorial plaque at Algiers Point, identifying a former holding site on the Mississippi where enslaved Africans were abused and quarantined before transportation to slave markets across the river. Titled to incorporate the Haitian Creole word that in English translates to “catastrophe,” Katastwóf Karavan interrogates the way in which these dehumanizing and violent experiences have been historicized and underexamined. Through collaboration between image and sound, Walker and Moran create an alternative register—with “music as bearer of our emotional history,” as Walker describes—for those catastrophic forces that have shaped culture into the present.

From December 19 to 21, The Bandwagon—pianist Jason Moran, bassist Tarus Mateen, and drummer Nasheet Waits—performs a twenty-year history with music, stories, and images. The piano trio is a mainstay in the jazz tradition; trios led by Ahmad Jamal and Bill Evans have defined a style that has continued to evolve. When the Bandwagon emerged in the late ‘90s, the group quickly found language that sounded fluid and miscalculated. This would become their signature sound, which led to a groundbreaking movement as much dedicated to the past as to—more importantly—its conceptual futures.

Moran, Mateen, and Waits first began performing together in 1998 as the rhythm section of the band New Directions (named after legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette’s 1978 album). In late 1999, after the New Directions group disbanded, Moran, who had recently signed to Blue Note Records, began touring with Mateen and Waits, billed as the Jason Moran Trio. Soon after, they began referring to themselves as The Bandwagon. In 2000, Moran released Facing Left with The Bandwagon, the first of more than six albums featuring the ensemble.

All events are presented in conjunction with the exhibition Jason Moran, which includes the range of art Moran has explored, from his own sculptures and drawings to collaborations with visual artists to performance and video. Filling the Whitney’s eighth floor galleries, the exhibition is overseen at the Whitney by Adrienne Edwards, the Engell Speyer Family Curator and Curator of Performance, with Clémence White, curatorial assistant. Edwards originated the exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2018.

Jason Moran Performances: Schedule and Ticketing Details

Curated by celebrated jazz pianist, composer, and visual artist Jason Moran and Whitney performance curator Adrienne Edwards, the series features live in-gallery performances, activations, and evening concerts presented in conjunction with Moran’s first solo museum exhibition on view at the Whitney from September 20, 2019 through January 5, 2020. For complete ticket information and schedule, please visit whitney.org.

Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon

Tickets are required ($25 adults; $18 members, students, seniors, and visitors with a disability) for Friday and Saturday afternoon Jazz on a High Floor in the Afternoon performances and include Museum admission. Tickets for performances during Pay-What-You-Wish hours (Fridays, 7–10 pm) will be distributed day–of, on a first come first served basis at the Museum starting at 7 pm.

  • Archie Shepp with Jason Moran, Friday, September 27, 7 pm, Gallery, Floor 8
  • Archie Shepp with Lafayette Harris & Avery Sharpe, Saturday, September 28, 4 pm, Gallery, Floor 8
  • Fay Victor with Anthony Coleman, Ratzo Harris, and Tom Rainey, Friday, October 18, 5 and 7 pm, Gallery, Floor 8
  • Fay Victor with Darius Jones and Christopher Hoffman, Saturday, October 19, 2 and 4 pm, Gallery, Floor 8
  • Oliver Lake
  • Friday, October 25, 7 pm
  • Saturday, October 26, 4 pm, Gallery, Floor 8

Onyx Collective

  • Friday, November 1, 5 and 7 pm
  • Saturday, November 2, 2 and 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Jamire Williams

  • Friday, November 8, 5 and 7 pm
  • Saturday, November 9, 2 and 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Cecil McBee

  • Friday, November 15, 7 pm
  • Saturday, November 16, 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Joanne Brackeen

  • Friday, November 22, 5 and 7 pm
  • Saturday, November 23, 2 and 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Michela Marino Lerman Love’s Movement

  • Friday, December 6, 5 and 7 pm
  • Saturday, December 7, 2 and 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Tiger Trio

  • Friday, January 3, 5 and 7 pm
  • Saturday, January 4, 2 and 4 pm
  • Gallery, Floor 8

Kara Walker and Jason Moran: Katastwóf Karavan

  • Saturday, October 12, 1–6:30 pm
  • Largo, Outdoors
  • This event is free.

The Bandwagon at 20

  • Thursday, December 19, 8 pm
  • Friday, December 20, 8 pm
  • Saturday, December 21, 8 pm
  • Susan and John Hess Family Theater, Floor 3
  • Tickets are required ($25).