Among the many things Jason Moran has demonstrated over the last 20 years is this: the man knows his way around a love song.
Not that they take up an outsize portion of his song catalog, which tends to focus on ideas, both concrete and abstract. But consider how central the standard “Body and Soul” has been to his expression, or the sensitivity he has brought to interpretations of everything from Björk’s “Jöga” to Monk’s “Crepuscule with Nellie.”
Now, as a surprise Valentine’s Day drop, Moran has released “For Love” — a solo piano piece in a tender and reflective key. It’s his first new release since a landmark exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art last fall.
The song was posted as a single on Moran’s Bandcamp page, and you can hear it here:
Moran recorded “For Love” on July 18, 2017, at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in Rome. The song bears some of his hallmarks as a composer, with a slow drift of harmonic movement and an air of solemn beauty.
Given the celebrated bond between Moran and mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, his wife and creative partner, you could easily interpret “For Love” as a straightforward romantic dedication. But I also hear a loose tether between this song and an early entry in the Moran discography — a ballad called “Gentle Shifts South,” which he wrote with his grandparents in mind. (A later version, recorded live at The Village Vanguard, interpolates their sampled voices.)
The point seems worth considering, at least — that love finds many tributaries, and flows in myriad directions.
Jason Moran will appear on March 26 and 27 at the 2020 Big Ears Festival, in Knoxville, Tenn.