Jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran was named Tuesday as the Kennedy Center’s artistic adviser for jazz. Moran will be only the second person to hold the position, following a 16-year stint by one of his mentors, the iconic pianist and educator Billy Taylor, who served from 1994 until his death last December.
“I have a lot of ideas that I think will fit well with the Kennedy Center, so this is very exciting,” Moran says.
The 36-year-old pianist inherits a robust program, thanks in large part to his predecessor. Taylor — who started at the Kennedy Center as a seasoned musician, educator and broadcaster in his early 70s — shepherded the jazz program from several scattered concerts each year to a constant bounty of shows, master classes, lectures, workshops and interviews on his beloved radio show, “Billy Taylor’s Jazz at the Kennedy Center.”
Moran “is someone that is firmly rooted in the tradition of the music,” says Kevin Struthers, the Kennedy Center’s director of jazz programming, who will work with Moran over his three-year appointment to curate artists for concerts and jazz education. “As one of the foremost contemporary artists on the scene, I think he’ll bring a more contemporary aspect to the music, and to our programming, without disrespecting the past but still looking ahead to where the music is going.”