The decision to form an acoustic piano trio for his latest release, Light Made Lighter
, offered an interesting challenge for Craig Taborn. Although he has years of experience with the instrument, he's also spent every one of those years fiddling with the dials on his Moog. Whether on synthesizer, sequencer, Fender Rhodes or Hammond B-3, he’s made a career of the beauty of sound as its own end. Yet when stripped of the nuanced current that electricity grants him, Taborn's vocabulary remains surprisingly intact. In place of the creeping resonances that he often leaves stewing beneath his dizzying single-note runs, he repeats rhythmic figures that usually achieve the same hypnotic grounding. And the single-note runs, themselves, don't seem to miss the electronics. All but one of Light Made Lighter's
songs are Taborn's own compositions, and are split between high energy vamps and solo piano reflections. While it is the vamps that often find Taborn playing his most intense material, using every one of his fingers as fast-paced smatterings of percussion, it is the softer solo work that stands out. Crystallized on his meditative "Morning Creatures," Taborn culls colorful Debussian harmonies, and voices them with Ives' snowy pacing. We get the chance, on these tracks, to hear the bare sentiment that lies underneath Taborn's expert electric manipulations.
This review first appeared in the June 2002 issue of All About Jazz: New York .
Personnel: Craig Taborn: piano; Chris Lightcap: bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.