323

Craig Taborn: A Study in Contrasts

Tom Greenland By

Sign in to view read count








Jonathon Haffner
Life On Wednesday
Cachuma Records
2009


Lotte Anker
Floating Islands
ILK
2009




Craig Taborn's seemingly innocuous musings have a way of sneaking up on you, revealing, upon closer listening, surprising density and intensity; two recent releases feature the empathetic yet independent keyboardist's complex musical mien.

Alto saxophonist Jonathon Haffner's Life on Wednesday, with Taborn, guitarist Wayne Krantz, bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummers Jochen Rueckert and Kenny Wollesen, is a layered, rock-inflected outing. The arrangements are tight and succinct, the tunes both catchy and intelligent. While Haffner is the guiding visionary, he is a democratic leader, leaving space in his compositions. The set is a mix of ballads and rockers, laced with two pensive solo sax soliloquies and a longer, exploratory centerpiece. Krantz' twangy, slightly flanged guitar is propelled by the dense duo drumming while Taborn thickens the texture in creative ways: on "Time Time" his chimey Wurlitzer is enhanced by ring modulator effects and gong-like pads; on "Radio One" acoustic and electric tones blend in a polyphonic soundscape; "New Mexico" contains slowly ascending octave trills over gentle chords and a minimalist coda; on "Formigas" his broad-ranging palette of metallic patches and echoed decays imitates a one-man Ellington band; "Maybe Mexico" spatters raindrop notes across the piano followed by deep woody tones and the meandering solo on "New Year" gropes along, extending melodic tendrils in both directions simultaneously before finding its form.

Floating Islands is a live trio date recorded in Copenhagen, with Taborn, Danish saxophonist Lotte Anker and drummer extraordinaire Gerald Cleaver. The third release by this highly cohesive coterie continues their more-is-less aesthetic, where musical meanings must be inferred from reading between the (improvised) lines. Like Taborn, Anker, shifting between tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, is a study in contrasts, a lyrical and understated skronker, lightly atmospheric or full of sound and fury, leading as she follows. Her ideas spin out slowly, poring over details. Cleaver embodies disciplined freedom, often implying more by what he leaves out, finally letting loose with snare rolls and rim-shots at the end of the long opening suite. Taborn begins with restraint, plodding out slowly modulating chords on the title track, segueing to dense clusters and half-held, Monk-esque chords on "Ritual," building to an improvised fugue ending "Transitory Blossom." He climaxes on "Backwards River," his attacks becoming staccato and didactic, building in both registers simultaneously, relenting finally on the closing track to pluck subdued low tones from inside the piano box.


Tracks & Personnel

Life On Wednesday

Tracks: Time Time; Radio One; New Mexico; Western Wren (The Bird Call); Formigas; Big Wheel; Tuesday Night Danny; Freewheel; Wednesday Night Firsts; Maybe Mexico; New Year.

Personnel: Jonathon Haffner: alto saxophone, clarinet; Craig Taborn: piano, Wurlitzer, electronics; Wayne Krantz: guitar; Elvind Opsvik: upright bass, electric bass; Jochen Rueckert & Kenny Wollesen: drums.

Floating Islands

Tracks: Floating; Ritual; Transitory Blossom; Backwards River; Even Today I Am Still Arriving.

Personnel: Lotte Anker: soprano, alto, & tenor saxophones; Craig Taborn: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drums.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Green Mountain Jazz Multiple Reviews Green Mountain Jazz
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Guitars on Three Continents Multiple Reviews Guitars on Three Continents
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Queen Esther: Sings Jazz & Black Americana Multiple Reviews Queen Esther: Sings Jazz & Black Americana
by James Nadal
Published: July 12, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe 2 Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe 2
by Doug Collette
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient Africa" and Oliver Lake and Joseph Bowie's "Live at A Space 1976" Multiple Reviews Two Sackville Gems: Abdullah Ibraihim's "Ancient...
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 2, 2017
Read "Duke Ellington on Storyville Records" Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF" Multiple Reviews Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Paul G. Smyth: Weekertoft downloads" Multiple Reviews Paul G. Smyth: Weekertoft downloads
by John Eyles
Published: September 24, 2016
Read "Emanem Tidies Up" Multiple Reviews Emanem Tidies Up
by John Eyles
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "NendoDango Records: Reinventing Tradition" Multiple Reviews NendoDango Records: Reinventing Tradition
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 6, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!