Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

397

Gerald Cleaver / William Parker / Craig Taborn: Farmers by Nature

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Truly improvised music is, like the depths of the great oceans, a place where few have really ventured, and it remains a largely unexplored world. On Farmers by Nature pianist Craig Taborn, drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist William Parker are like cartographers of the unknown, diving deep into the world of improvised music. Guided by each others' rhythms, their ear is their compass, plotting a course through unfamiliar soundscapes which can be both intimidating and awe-inspiring.

So tentatively does the music unfold at first, it is almost as if a breeze has brushed Cleaver's drum kit and made Parker's bass strings thrum. Cleaver's quietly busy manipulation of the surfaces, edges and recesses of his kit gradually brings their different textures alive, below and above the bass pulse of Parker, which seems to act as signal to Taborn. Momentum builds slowly and powerfully, and as Taborn's single notes change to bolder chords and short melodic statements, so too the language of Cleaver and Parker gains in sureness. Dissonant, angular piano clusters are partnered by Cleaver's bowed bass playing and Parker's subtleties behind the kit.

Around fifteen minutes into this hour-long live improvisation, the initial tentativeness has been cast aside, and Taborn's heavy bottom chords are supplemented by jagged right hand exclamations as the all-round intensity increases. There's a very natural ebb and flow to the music, and the trio's strong voice becomes a whisper in stages. At the end of the segment titled "Cranes," Parker's bowed bass sounds like some strange creature of the sea, and the others seem compelled to listen to its story. Once finished Cleaver, minus sticks, conducts the drum kit as the bass pulse returns, propelling lightening two-handed runs from Taborn which become ever more urgent and pounding, bringing to mind the Charles Bukowski title: "Play the piano drunk like a percussion instrument until the fingers begin to bleed a bit"—it's heady stuff. Cleaver's sticks command dramatic, punchy rolls from the kit, and his cymbals sound like inhalations and exhalations of breath.

From the embers of one segment surge the flames of the next, and "Not Unlike Number 10" sees more of Taborn's distinctive piano playing; staccato phrases, jabbed notes, fast little flurries, and repeated motifs. And once again, silence gradually emerges. From this place, Parker's bass gently rumbles, accompanied ever so subtly by Parker on shakers; the music is all about forward motion, and this segment too gathers force, with each musician driving the others on, each leading the way and each following the lead simultaneously.

To enter into a place where this type of bold, creative music is possible requires fearlessness and a complete trust in one another; Taborn, Cleaver and Parker clearly have both in abundance. That a category for "Best Improvised Performance" doesn't usually feature in jazz awards may support an assumption that improvisation is an inherent part of all jazz, but that's only really true for a small number of artists. Farmers by Nature makes that abundantly clear.


Track Listing: Korteh Khah; The Night; Cranes; Not Unlike Number 10; In Trees; Fieda Mytlie.

Personnel: Gerald Cleaver: drums; William Parker: bass; Craig Taborn: piano.

Title: Farmers By Nature | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: AUM Fidelity


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Alleviation CD/LP/Track Review Alleviation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Last Minute Panic CD/LP/Track Review Last Minute Panic
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Murphy CD/LP/Track Review Murphy
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Haberdashery CD/LP/Track Review Haberdashery
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Song of the Silver Geese CD/LP/Track Review Song of the Silver Geese
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 18, 2017
Read Live at Kolarac CD/LP/Track Review Live at Kolarac
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 18, 2017
Read "Magnetic" CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 27, 2017
Read "All These Hands" CD/LP/Track Review All These Hands
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Testimony" CD/LP/Track Review Testimony
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017

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!