Craig Taborn: Suggesting Textural Dimension
AAJ: I've seen such great players come up here from New York and play bad venues and get terrible doors ,with just a short hop up to Boston.
CT: It's hard, but I think there has to be some trail blazing done to create the network. It's not just going to materialize. You have to set it up that way and keep going to certain places to even develop an audience of people who are going to come out. I say that knowing people who've done that. Like Happy Apple in their region and the regional thing they've done in the Midwest. They paid a lot of dues developing that scene but now they can mount a tour and go through a number of towns and have a massive turnout. It's not lightweight when they gig live. It just takes time to develop that, and that's something that hasn't always happened. I think Tim did a certain amount of that with Bloodcount, definitely. Tim does a lot of little tours he does. Like Paraphrase, the thing he has with Drew Gress, he's done the southwest before. With this group we just haven't done it yet. It doesn't mean that we won't do it. With me, the electronics up the ante with the travel thing. We've got to figure out what we're going to take and how.
AAJ: So, your own thing. Your debut or your second cd. In fact, a lot of people probably look at your second record as your debut record.
CT: Yeah, in certain circles I think it is. The gap's so wide between them.
AAJ: Tell us about the concept for Light Made Lighter or what brought you to that point.
CT: The biggest thing I was exploring, on that, was dealing with that trio, the piano trio concept, and trying to, while staying true to certain conventions, to discard others. It wasn't that willful in that sense. I'm just always interested in the sonic space certain ensembles create and how you can exploit that'how much the identity of a certain ensemble is built around certain instruments, and how they play their role in the space.
AAJ: I know where you found Gerald. Where'd you find Chris Lightcap?
CT: I had known him for a while. At the time, he and Gerald were playing a lot with Joe Morris , and Mat Maneri was in there with that group. They had developed a thing and I had seen them play. I just really liked what had developed with them as a rhythm section. This is between 1998 and 2000. There are a couple records with them'one is live at the Knitting Factory, which is one of the gigs I saw. Again, Matt Shipp just threw that out as a possible rhythm section both Gerald and Chris, and I said, 'You know what? You're closer than you even know.' It was very fortuitous. Little did he know I was already there, in a way.
AAJ: Chris can really change his sound up from one song to the next. He gets that denser deep plucking sound and then he'll have a singing tone, like a different guy is in there.
CT: His technical thing is very evolved that way. He has a lot of control over his sound in that form. It's from the way he's playing and he uses it, which is why I heard him in the context of that project, because that's exactly what I was going for. Y'know, I didn't even talk to anybody'that's the beauty of that'that I didn't say that to anybody...I didn't sit down and say, 'I want to try to do something this way.' I just knew it would happen. But the way I was trying to approach the piano and the way Gerald was approaching his kit, and Chris...I wanted everybody to pull out all the stops with the sonic possibilities with their instrument and then still explore the material we played. It creates different possibilities. Instead of'a lot of piano trios go for a more focused concept, with everybody honing in on specific sounds with their instrument. I wanted to do the opposite in a sense.
AAJ: It's really hard to write about what it is exactly you're doing differently. And it's even hard to explain by the people who are actually doing it. You have to hear it, and then you get it.
CT: Exactly. Like I said, I didn't have to say anything. This is not something I even wanted to talk about. I just knew it'd happen. Once you start talking about it, it kind of just doesn't work, because everybody's trying too hard.
AAJ: In terms of the inside or outside thing'. You're playing doesn't sound, like, way avant or way out, or always avant or always out. There's a lot of melody, a lot of stuff my ears can grab onto. Are you intentionally coming in, then out? Do you think of it in terms of that, or more likely, not?
CT: No. I don't. And I think maybe that's what you hear. I don't really'because of how I developed as a player..I never knew there was such a thing. I think that may be something, going back to the Minneapolis thing. I think that we all came out of something where'I remember not having any idea in a general sense that there was a divide between these kind of concepts in music until I got into Detroit. There, people were delineating what I was doing that was out and what things I was doing that were more appropriate, or in, for certain contexts. I was like, 'Oh, really? Oh!' (laughs). I think for a lot of my listening I just didn't really think of it or worried about it that much.
Of course I'm aware of stylistic conventions in a certain context, but in terms of my improvising and my own creativity I don't think of things being 'out' or 'in' or you have to do this, or if you put something lyrical or melodic in this context it makes it too in and then all of a sudden it's not hardcore anymore, or going the other way, if you play something too out you will kill all of the beauty of what's being played or the purity of the instrument. I just don't hear music that way.