5

Craig Taborn Trio: Chants

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Craig Taborn Trio: Chants Pianist Craig Taborn's first ECM Records release under his own name, Avenging Angel (2011), garnered well-deserved praise as a worthy entry into the German label's long line of solo piano recordings by stellar artists such as Paul Bley, Chick Corea and, of course, Keith Jarrett. With Chants, a piano trio outing, Taborn will be held up for comparison against the label's ongoing piano trio explorations by Marcin Wasilewski, Stefano Battaglia, Bobo Stenson, Benedikt Jahnel, and (again, of course) Keith Jarrett. And it must be said that Taborn and his trio mates—bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver—stack up against the competition extremely well.

Avenging Angel is a very good recording, with Taborn's singular vision, alone at the keyboard, shining through. It is quirky, intense, cerebral and idiosyncratic, and unrelentingly surprising. Chants is better. Like fellow pianist Brad Mehldau, Taborn—in order to rise to the highest level of his artistry—needs an ensemble; he needs to respond to other musicians. With Morgan and Cleaver he has found the perfect foils.

The opener, "Saints," has a relentless momentum that shifts—and it's anyone's guess which of the trio signaled the shift—into a floating, free-form reverie in which Taborn maintains an intensity, and a density of notes, that eventually leads back into more forward momentum. "Beat the Ground" begins with a repeated piano phrase in front of Morgan's loping bass, and Cleaver's drum tumult. It's a subversive sound, a musical accompaniment to dark forces mobilizing.

The compelling, edge-of-the-seat one-two punch of the first two tunes leads into the gear shift of "In Chant," a sound full of mystery as Taborn employs space and spare, well-chosen notes and delicacy of touch, with a intricate segment of bass and drums interplay, with the piano laying out, that's as profound-sounding and as gorgeous as it gets, with Cleaver sounding—with the whispering cymbals and gentle friction and soft almost subliminal percussion—as if he's involved in a try-out to fill drummer Paul Motian's shoes, employing subtlety and seductive complexities and orchestral percussion explorations, acing the audition.

"Hot Blood" is a tight, agitated, angular four minutes, leading into the disc's centerpiece, the near-thirteen minute "All True Night/Future Perfect." This is where the genius of this trio blossoms. On a sprawling tune that drifts through different dimensions, the trio enters a Zen state of cohesive improvisation, a beautifully surreal dreamscape born of an ego-less equilibrium.

Craig Taborn's sideman/worked-with resume is huge. He hasn't been so prolific as a leader. But he has established himself as a rare original. And with his move to ECM Records, for 2011's Avenging Angel and now with, especially, Chants, he has moved into the category of top level jazz pianists.


Track Listing: Saints; Beat The Ground; In Chant; Hot Blood; All True Night / Future Perfect; Cracking Hearts; Silver Ghosts; Silver Days Or Love; Speak The Name.

Personnel: Craig Taborn: piano; Thomas Morgan: double bass; Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word
by John Ephland
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "The Ludwigsburg Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Ludwigsburg Concert
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 10, 2016
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Resolution" CD/LP/Track Review Resolution
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 15, 2016
Read "Impulsive Illuminations" CD/LP/Track Review Impulsive Illuminations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "For Free" CD/LP/Track Review For Free
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 13, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!