- Craig Taborn
- Avenging Angel
Craig Taborn Avenging Angel (ECM)
Farmers By Nature Out of This World’s Distortions (AUM Fidelity)
If Sun Ra is sitting up there on his golden throne afloat amidst the rings of Saturn wondering who might be the man on this Earth to properly shepard his unique hybrid of beauty and dissonance on the jazz piano into the uncertain future of the still-young 21st century, apparently his martian scouts have yet to hip him to the likes of Craig Taborn. Since his start in the early 90s as the trusted sideman of sax man James Carter, the Minnesota-born pianist has established himself as a man of daring on the ivories wether its on other folks’ records like Michael Formanek’s The Rub and Spare Change or Mat Maneri’s underrated 2000 work Blue Deco or his own prior solo endeavors such as 2001’s Light Made Lighter and 2004’s Junk Magic. But these two latest releases with his name attached to them truly establish Taborn as a fearless leader of the modern jazz underground. The last few years have seen Craig bring his piano into the foreground with a series of solo performances evocative of the work of his ECM labelmates Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. Avenging Angel, his first unaccompanied solo work, is a studio testament to his prowess on the Steinway that sits in the recital room of Lugano’s Studio D, where he and legendary producer Manfred Eicher utlized the room’s acoustics to resounding effect across these thirteen compositions that perfectly showcase Taborn’s duality as both a classicist and experimentalist on the baby grand.
Released in tandem with Avenging Angel is the latest album from Farmers By Nature, Taborn’s critically acclaimed improv trio with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist William Parker for AUM Fidelity. Recorded in June of 2010 at Scrootable Labs in Brooklyn, Out of This World’s Distortions marks the Farmers’ studio debut, nearly four years removed from their eponymous first LP, captured live in June of 2008 at John Zorn’s NYC haunt The Stone. This six-song set was performed in dedication to legendary Chicago jazzman Fred Anderson, who passed away the night before they rolled tape. Opening track “For Fred Anderson” is the most obvious nod to the saxophonist’s imact on their art, but deep shades of the AACM from which he rose are cast throughout the entirety of Distortions, particularly on longer compositions like the 18-minute “Tait’s Traced Traits” and the 12-and-a-half-minute “Cutting’s Gait”, showcasing a spontaneous sense of adventure through sound that manages to make their unique clash of instruments seem as harsh as the rumble of the subway beneath their feet in some moments and as beautifully placid as the songs of the birds chirping in the perfect blue sky above them in others.
Given the year Craig Taborn had in his 2011, it will indeed be quite interesting to see where his muse takes him heading into 2012, hopefully with the cosmic blessings of Mr. Blount fully accounted for, because this cat has earned it.