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Craig Taborn: Suggesting Textural Dimension

By Published: May 2, 2003

AAJ: Were Berne and Douglas calling on you simultaneously?

CT: I played with Tim first actually, and then Dave called me. I don't know how he heard me; he probably heard several different things I was doing. I met him when I was doing this gig with Melvin Gibbs Liberation Theology thing. I met Dave on one of those. Dave called me to do a kind of improvised trumpet summit kind of thing, with Roy Campbell and Bakida Carroll, Mark Dresser and Susie Ibarra. Then he called me to do the Witness project, and I did that. I'm on a little bit of the new record as well.

AAJ: Freak In ?

CT: Yeah. That's how Dave's thing happened. I'm in Susie's band too, with Jennifer Choi who is a violinist.

AAJ: So you cover the bass with that band, as well.

CT: Yes. We go to Italy this Saturday (February 22nd) in fact. Right now I'm with Marty Ehrlich's quartet as well. We just cut a record. That's with Billy Drummond and Mike Formanek. It's acoustic, a piano group'really nice.

AAJ: Can I ask for your impression of how or who shapes the sound of Tim Berne's different ensembles? Your contribution on Hard Cell is just so exciting to my ears.

CT: It is an equal contribution between all members in the group. Now, that's not to give the impression that I am equal to Tim in terms of group conception, just that my contribution to the group sound is equal with Tim's or Tom's. I think because of the nature sonically of the instruments I play it has, you know, an obvious definitely colors things in a certain way. But I think in terms of the music'making, everybody shapes it equally. That's something that's the strength of Tim's writing and his groups. It's truly an improviser's group. He writes a lot of specific material, but it's designed to create and foster improvisation. So I think that largely because of the sonic thing 'it's easy to do it, to color the music, because I'm playing electronic things in a context with people who are playing acoustic instruments. With the bands with Marc Ducret , who is playing electric guitar, my stuff still stands out that way, so it changes the whole color and sound of the group..I'd say that..but in terms of musically, I'm not putting any more information in there, in some cases I'm putting less.

AAJ: Can you help me with the differences between Big Satan, Hard Cell and Science Friction ? Can you tell me the differences, both with personnel and musically?

CT: What happens in terms of the group concept, especially in terms of the improvisation, with these personalities, is pretty different. So in terms of writing, Tim writes a certain way, so there's a certain compositional through-line through all those groups, but the way we improvise is very different. Big Satan, with Marc, Tim and Tom for instance, has a very specific sound. A whole different kind of space improvisationally is created than what I do in Hard Cell, which is me, Tom and Tim. In the same format, replacing Ducret with me and a bunch of synths, it becomes a completely different kind of thing. With Science Friction, with both of us in there, we're putting in different kinds of information. That's Hard Cell and Big Satan combined, sort of. It really does go different places and if nothing else, the synth stuff I do does takes it into a different realm. Science Friction, because of what Ducret brings in, changes the way we improvise a lot I think. Definitely, for me, I do completely different things improvisationally in the Science Friction group.

AAJ: And there's a Clownfinger as well, with a bassist.

CT: Yeah. That was ..yeah, I see what you mean. Tim basically, if he changes personnel, that's a different group largely because it's based around the identity improvisationally of the group. Clownfinger has Scott Colley on bass and Herb Robertson on cello too. A larger group that's much different sonically. Clownfinger hasn't recorded yet.

AAJ: That'd be good, if they did I mean.

CT: Yeah (laughs).

AAJ: Has he intimated to you anything that's comin' up?

CT: I don't know exactly. He's always got schemes but I don't know what the final form will be.

AAJ: I noted you guys are doing a week at the Knitting Factory in March?

CT: Then we're going to Europe for three weeks.

AAJ: I wanted to ask, in terms of US touring, why you guys stay put in New York. No US mini-tour or anything?

CT: Well, we've played other places before. It's actually just a little harder in the states. It's getting better and people are trying but it's hard to mount certain kinds of tours.

AAJ: That's kind. Everyone I talk to says it's really bad.

CT: It's challenging. And when you can do it can be really fun. There are great audiences everywhere. It's just the infrastructure isn't set up the same way it is in Europe in terms of how jazz and improvising artists tour. Once the infrastructure gets set up a different way here, it'll be easier to mount different tours like that. You have to create or trail blaze in that sense. In all these towns you have to get the venues and then you have to hook it up..make sure you can get there and'the money is definitely less because it's not as subsidized, but...

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