There was always a sense that pianist Craig Taborn
was more successful as a "super sideman" than as a leader of his own recordings. His contributions to CD offerings by saxophonist Tim Berne
, reedman Roscoe Mitchell
, saxophonists David Binney
and James Carter
, and many more, have been critical in crafting dozens of excellent music sets. Then he recorded a solo piano disc for ECM Records, Avenging Angel
(2011), followed by a trio set for the label, Chants
(2013). These two excellent discs cemented his credibility as an important contemporary voice as a leader.
The ECM discs featured Taborn originals. Now the pianist, exploring John Zorn
's Masada Songbook Two, offers up Book of Angels, Volume 27: Flaga
, a set thatalong with Chants
establishes Craig Taborn as a top level leader of the dynamic, modernistic piano trio outings.
John Zornrecord company head (Tzadik Records)/alto saxophonist/composeris prolific, and generous with his music. He has turned over hundreds of compositions in his Book of Angels seriesan exploration of his Jewish roots and Jewish mysticismto a numerous top level artists: guitarist Pat Metheny
, pianists Jamie Saft
and Uri Caine
, Medeski, Martin and Wood, trumpeter Dave Douglas
, tenor sax man Joe Lovano
. The results have proven uniformly superb, especially so with Craig Taborn's contribution to the Book of Angels, Flaga
Taborn is joined here by bassist Christian McBride
and drummer Tyshawn Sorey
. They are a free-flying unit that revels in Zorn's music. They are not careful; they attack the tunes with a joyful fervor, churning out dark turbulence on "Machnia" and "Peliel," painting complex-yet-approachable melodic portraits underpinned by passionate rhythmic grooves on "Katzfiel," exploring a Jewish-tinged Cecil Taylor
territory on "Rogziel." Then there is the pure, delicate, mysterious beauty of "Shaftiel."
Taborn and his band-mates havein their immersion on John Zorn's musiccrafted a singular trio soundruggedly iconoclastic, fresh, fervid, relentlessly off-kilter yet still compellingly melodic, and beautiful, on this splendid recording.