Craig Taborn Trio – Chants (2013)

Share this:

One of the most diversely talented pianists of today can make just about any kind of record he wants, and make it good. So why did Craig Taborn choose to make an acoustic jazz trio record with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver for his second ECM project? “I convened the group around their personalities more so than around the instrumentations,” offers Taborn. “It just happens that it looks like a traditional piano trio but it’s really about having Gerald and Thomas in the group.”

Chants, therefore, is not merely some guy heading up a piano/bass/drums trio, it is about Taborn, Morgan and Cleaver having musical conversations, at a natural pace; where tension is only implied and the sonic realm in which they perform within is only partially filled up with sound. By doing away with traditional concepts and replacing it personal connections, the Craig Taborn Trio ends up being one of the most idiosyncratic piano trios aside from the one Matthew Shipp leads since Paul Bley’s trios of the sixties.

The offbeat sentiment begins with Taborn himself, whose piano vocabulary resides outside of jazz as often as it resides inside of it. These nine melodies he devised are loosely defined ones, often jagged, barely complete, and intensely introspective. There are some dense harmonic progressions, such as the ones found on “Saints,” “Beat The Ground” and “Speak The Name,” where Taborn with relentlessly play ostinatos, but they’re very entangled ostinatos, making them hypnotic instead of rote. On “Saints,” he allows his repeating figure to gradually break out of repetition, coaxed by the tight rapport of Morgan and Cleaver. Taborn’s repeating figure of “Beat The Ground” transforms into something the same except the notes got rearranged as he deftly uses his right hand to anxiously improvise before joining with the left hand to bring the song to conclusion.

“All True Night/Future Perfect” is about half more as long as the next lengthiest song, and as such, reveals perhaps the most about these musicians. The solo piano portion at the front end of this track a classically inclined one, coming out like a stream of consciousness, a kind of track that could have gone on Avenging Angel. It’s a wandering melody that seems formed in his mind the instant before it’s played, and the improvisational nature of the song is betrayed by the strong sense of unity among the three that happens when the rhythm section makes its entry a couple of minutes in. Morgan and Cleaver follow along with a precision that only comes from telepathy; at various times you can hear Cleaver match the unpredictable pulse of Taborn and of Morgan. In a similar fashion, Morgan will shadow Taborn’s every move with uncanny exactitude.

The performances on “Cracking Hearts,” “Silver Ghosts” and “Silver Days Or Love” are all distinguished by the barren soundscape that the three lightly tread over. The third of this batch of songs becomes a quiet exhibit for Morgan, who plays with melancholy and trepidation.

By focusing on the interactions among the performers and not the construction or parameters artificially imposed by composition, Craig Taborn had faith that the resulting music would take care of itself. More to the point, Taborn had faith in Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver. It’s a faith that’s rewarded with some terrific non-piano trio music that’s played by a piano trio.

Chants will be released April 23, by ECM Records.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B00BH413IG” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B004SQAF70″ /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00005QK7I” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0001LYFQS” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B003NBBNEK” /]

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close