Craig Taborn: Compass Confusion

Mike Jurkovic By

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Craig Taborn: Compass Confusion
Compass Confusion, the long hoped for return of Craig Taborn's depth defying, solo-gone-quintet from Junk Magic (Thirsty Ear, 2004), climaxes early and often and, however you like to be lured, It pulls you along with a lush velvet hook in your mouth. Reeling it in is a struggle but a blessing. We know that. We get it. CTJM thinks so too.

First timers, saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed and bassist ((Erik Fratzke}} are welcomed brotherly into the fold by pianist Taborn, drummer Dave King and violist Mat Maneri and the music begins its pull. Its lush, austere lure.

There's a robust anxiousness in "Laser Burning Hearts" that drives the whole thought model behind Compass Confusion: you join the band in chasing the music. Where it goes and why. How it gets there and why. Void of form being a form all its own, "Laser Burning Hearts" lays it all out. But it's a cagey prey. It plays all of its seven minutes like a card game: Up the ante. Raise ya. Up the ante. Raise ya. Three aces. Four kings.

The dreamy free sailing "Dreams and Glass," part young 1970's fusion, part whispery, horror flick soundtrack, part spacey yet problematic, leads into the title track which may sound at first like an old familiar drone but evolution takes time. That's how we get to "The Science of Why Devils Smell Like Sulfur" a gotcha-by-the-balls, here's-the-stick-now-follow-the-carrot track you live for.

But with all that said and on the record, Compass Confusion does, in a lot of ways, slip one step behind its 2004 predecessor. Sure no one commands electronica like Taborn, a pioneer of the music and no two sculptors pursue their own reason like Maneri and King but this isn't new terrain they tred. They and we have explored this before. Though it might be unfair to say given the light shed by Junk Magic , it's more like new steps along a slightly overgrown path.

Track Listing

Laser Beaming Hearts; Dream and Guess; Compass Confusion; The Science of Why the Devil Smells like Sulfur; The Night Land; Sargasso; Sunsets Forever.


Craig Taborn: piano; Chris Speed: saxophone; Mat Maneri: viola; Erik Fratzke: bass; Dave King: drums.

Album information

Title: Compass Confusion | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records

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