Acclaimed pianist Jason Moran is releasing his new album, All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller, a collaboration with the vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello that recasts the music of the legendary jazz entertainer Fats Waller as a modern dance party. The album—which was produced by Ndegeocello and Blue Note Records president Don Was—is the ninth in a formidable catalog that Moran has been building on Blue Note since 1999.
All Rise features Moran hosting a changeable cast of musicians that includes vocalists Ndegeocello and Lisa E. Harris, his longtime trio The Bandwagon featuring bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, and a funky horn-inflected ensemble anchored by drummer Charles Haynes that features trumpeter Leron Thomas and trombonist Josh Roseman, as well as guest saxophonist Steve Lehman. The album was recorded and mixed by Bob Power, known for honing the sound on classic hip hop records by A Tribe Called Quest, Common and The Roots.
All Rise is the studio culmination of a project that was born onstage in Harlem as the Fats Waller Dance Party. In 2011—nearly a year after Moran had been named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius” fellow and around the time he was named Artistic Advisor for Jazz at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC—the NYC performing arts venue Harlem Stage Gatehouse commissioned Moran, a longtime resident of Upper Manhattan, to create a tribute to the Harlem stride master as part of its “Harlem Jazz Shrines” series.