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Gerald Cleaver: Farmers By Nature and Live at the Loft

Sean Patrick Fitzell By

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Gerald Cleaver / William Parker / Craig Taborn
Farmers by Nature
Aum Fidelity Records
2009


Lotte Anker / Craig Taborn / Gerald Cleaver
Live at the Loft
Ilk Music
2008




Eschewing histrionic displays, drummer Gerald Cleaver uses the subtlest motions—bare hands on the drum heads, scraped cymbal edges and judicious pauses—as rhythmic cushions of musical support. Pianist Craig Taborn has been a frequent foil; they share an interest in rhythmic complexity, groove and creating form and melodic content in improvisation. Two recent releases match them with different players, illustrating the adaptability of their rapport.

Bassist William Parker completes the trio on Farmers By Nature, a project initiated by Cleaver. The CD documents an improvised concert at The Stone in 2008. Parker and Taborn often explore the lower registers, while Cleaver uses his hands and mallets for more resonant, warmer tones, imparting the earthiness suggested by the title. On "Korteh Khah," Parker's low thrum and spare vocalizations are an invocation, as Cleaver colors with cymbal shimmers and delicate drumming. His light percussion introduces "Cranes," an ebb that subsides with Parker's bowed bass flurries spurring a new direction, as Taborn responds with aggressive stabs of denser note clusters. The interaction is not hyper: each idea offered is worked through to resolution before the next is suggested.

Live at the Loft is the second CD of a trio with saxophonist Lotte Anker and her reeds give an ethereal quality to the improvisations. "Magic Carpet" starts tentatively, building momentum with low tom rumble and inside-the-piano plunks supporting plaintive alto. The pianist cascades over the drummer's plodding movement, both accenting the low end as a piano solo develops. Anker returns and quickens the pace with darting phrases that Taborn matches with fleet retorts, the extended improv concluding with Cleaver's tasty embroidery of the groove. His mallets prod intensifying angular eruptions from Taborn on "Real Solid" and Anker floats over the drums-keys dialogue. Cleaver's brushes color the lovely melodic piano rolls and spry sax flights of the spacious, atmospheric coda "Berber".


Tracks and Personnel

Farmers by Nature

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

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

Live at the Loft

Tracks: Magic Carpet; Real Solid; Berber.

Personnel: Lotte Anker: alto and tenor saxophones; Craig Taborn: piano; Gerald Cleaver: drums.


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