Thursday, June 09, 2011

Craig Taborn - Avenging Angel (ECM, 2011)

Pianist Craig Taborn has taken his time in becoming a band leader. He has led some interesting electric units, and has apprenticed with seemingly everyone of note from James Carter to Roscoe Mitchell and beyond. This album find him stripped of all of his electronic effects, focusing on solo acoustic piano in an intimate and detailed atmosphere. Texture and dynamics are the key to the success of the album, at times he develops spare motifs using the bass notes of the piano well like his colleague Matthew Shipp. He weaves small improvisations into thoughtful statements, not in a grandiose or bombastic way, but in a manner that allows the music and ideas to flow through him in an unimpeded manner. But he also knows how to up the ante as well, building the music into swirling two-handed lines that show the manual dexterity he is capable of. The music is recorded very well, working to the musicians advantage, allowing the clarity and subtlety of the notes to come through very clearly. All of the experience that he has picked up working for a multiple diversity of leaders combined with his own vision of the piano and improvisation make for a continually rewarding album. 2011 has been a very good year for solo piano aficionados, with very good albums released by Matthew Shipp, Brad Mehldau and others.This one stands well in that company, and shows another facet of Taborn’s musical personality. Avenging Angel -

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