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Craig Taborn: Suggesting Textural Dimension

By Published: May 2, 2003

AAJ: Can you tell us your ideas around the electric, or electronic concept? Do you think the community will see it as the next step in the NuBop, Equilibrium, DJ Spooky, Spring Heel Jack thing or will that, of course, be too easy?

CT: It'll be too easy. Probably because knowing those other records my thing will have little to do with the approach those guys took. I have a different awareness of what the electronic thing than what they were dealing with.

AAJ: More organic?

CT: It might be more organic on a level but then again, maybe not on's hard to say.I mean I've just done electronic stuff for so long and had a certain interaction with the electronic music world that they're from. So I think my thing'there are things that will dovetail but I think my idea of it is a little different. Their thing is kind of breakbeat oriented. It has kind of an ambient thing and then kind of a hip-hop thing or whatever. In a certain sense, hip-hop as a certain kind of a breakbeat, and that may not be what I do. I don't really think of electronic music as necessarily embodied by coming out of 1990's urban youth culture. I see it in a broader sense. In jazz alone I can trace it to the 50s. There's a long tradition of electric, maybe not electronic, stuff. If you start talking about Rhodes or electric piano you've got to go back there. If you start talking about organ things that aren't Hammond B-3, you have to go back to Sun Ra at that time. There are some other immediate early references that kids are dealing with in electronic music now.

In jazz, it's really nothing new. It starts with Sun Ra's use of electric piano whether it be prototype Wurlys or Rhodes, as well as his use of electric bass. In a large sense his music concepts, in terms of things that are sort of Afro-derived. Certain bass ostinatos that electric bass is playing, repetitive figures on the drums, layered drumming, backbeats, dub tempos or funk tempos, a backbeat with a bass line that's repeating-all that stuff is there-the template of it. If you talk about specific technologies, you can start narrowing it down, which is what a lot of people mean these days when they talk about a beat-it means a sampled beat-but I don't really think of beats that way. What's old what's not? What's new about a beat? In that context'.

AAJ: That leads to the usual influences question' if you want to get into that.

CT: That gets deep'I have a lot of influences.

AAJ: And Sun Ra's a big one?

CT: For a number of things, and there's a lot of other ones. That's not to say I don't like'there's a number of hip-hop people and techno people who I'm very enamored of and there's a lot of things that have developed in terms of conception and process there. I just identify it as part of a larger'so'

AAJ: Well, I've read you were heavily influenced by Sun Ra and the AACM as a young man. Hard to imagine a teenager, say 15 to 20 years ago, being influenced by those musics'it's a wonderful thing.

CT: More and more there's a scene of young people influenced by those things. I think when I was a kid in the 80's it was weirder (laughs) than now, especially in Minnesota, but it was the public library there.

AAJ: It was great that you felt all that. I sense we're done with influences.

CT: It gets to be too much. Not a cop out, just a lot of stuff. In terms of current or past stuff, I buy stuff across the timeline, as it were.

AAJ: Can you point us to some of what you feel is your better/best stuff on record that's been commercially released? Personally, I'd highly recommend 'Bodies We Came Out Of,' which is the first and last song on the Light Made Lighter. Just absolutely deft, fast, playing over the whole instrument with wide and close angular intervals.

CT: Well, yes. That and the two Tim Berne releases. I really like the new Mat Maneri thing . I just really like Maneri's music whether I'm on it or not! (laughs) The Roscoe discs..the ECM thing and the new one, called Song for My Sister on PI Recordings.

AAJ: So what's coming up this year after the Susie Ibarra tour?

CT: The Tim tour . I've been talking to Dave Binney about possible gigging.

AAJ: You're not on the latest Binney record, are you?

CT: No, but I do like that record and I have played with him. Maybe a Marty Ehrlich tour. The Drew Gress gigs we've done have been great.

AAJ: Are you going to undertake your own thing? Are you already out there as being available for solo gigs or solo tours?

CT: The answer to your question is yes I'm going to do it and the reason you haven't seen it is I haven't yet. I just get going on these other projects and it's been exciting playing with a lot of different people.

AAJ: I think it's fantastic that you're a big piece of so many things because you're presence is felt so heavily in just anything you choose to participate in. Is this second record a big part of the solo gigging equation?

CT: I think it will be this year. I think I want to get more stuff going, to play with these guys. It's in the cards. I keep getting sidetracked as I get called for people's projects. When I get calls from people, and take the work, I like to really engage with their concept musically. To an extent, that takes me out of my own creative space in a certain way. I don't like to go in halfway. The nature of some of the things I get called for is pretty intense. Like next month when I do this Tim tour, he's got like, ten new pieces. I'll learn that and I really just sort of go into the frame of mind needed to play his music. So with all of them - Dave Douglas, Roscoe, Marty Ehrlich or Drew - I try to do that. It's like, 'OK. I'm in this now.' That also conspires to keep my thing on hold. What happens is, I've been keeping it on hold for a little while now. I intend to get that together. It's time for me to do that with my band.

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Download jazz mp3 “Light Made Lighter” by Craig Taborn Download jazz mp3 “Mystero” by Craig Taborn