“It always feels right as a way of grounding like where we are as a band,” says Jason Moran, on this new live Village Vanguard album from his piano trio The Bandwagon during his chat to the audience about what it means to be playing back at what for many is the greatest jazz club in the world. The band intro is on one of three tracks to sample from the pianist’s Thanksgiving at the Vanguard release recorded during their 2016 residency in New York, Moran with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits.

Released via Bandcamp 10 months after the similar release of the solo piano Armory Concert again via the same platform ‘For Jaki’ is the first track and touches on the stride tradition that emerges after a highly opaque avant beginning that stitches together left and right hand counter metrical and melodic lines to walk the tune forward, Jaki as in Jaki Byard (1922-1999), the great Mingus pianist and a former teacher of Moran’s. 

The compelling third track is a ten and a half minute variant on Moran’s constantly refreshing ‘Gangsterism,’ a picture of rolling bluesiness and infectious caught-in-the-snare groove going by the shorthand of ‘Gangsterism at the Vanguard’ that becomes very free form by the end after the downhome quality recedes and the flow goes ever deeper as the trio just have to take all that sheer spirit and life and force it all out