Not unlike the sudden thunderstorms that rumbled across the city this week, something initially seemed wonderfully random about Jason Moran's solo show at the Hammer Museum's Billy Wilder Theater Thursday night.
In a one-off West Coast appearance as part of the Hammer's Pacific Standard Time exhibition "Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980," the New York-based, Houston-born Moran isn't someone with obvious ties to L.A. In fact, he's been a regrettably tough catch on his own lately apart from recent local dates backing Bill Frisell and longtime collaborator Charles Lloyd (who was also on hand in the crowd).
Still, from an artistry standpoint, there's a very short list of pianists who approach Moran's level in today's jazz. Now 36 years old, Moran received a MacArthur "genius grant" last year, which also saw his latest album "Ten" lead an armload of critical best-of lists, and he was recently named the Kennedy Center's artistic advisor for jazz in a wonderfully inventive choice. But for all the accolades, naturally it's the music that says so much more.