Thursday, May 02, 2013

Craig Taborn Trio - Chants (ECM, 2013)

Pianist Craig Taborn began his career in the band of James Carter, and like Carter, he is open to all of the possibilities of jazz whether eclectic or traditional. This album is a deeply thoughtful and well paced set of acoustic jazz where Taborn is accompanied by Thomas Morgan on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The sound textures are bright and accessible on the uptempo tracks like the opening “Saints” and the appropriately titled “Hot Blooded.” The group engages with Taborn’s compositions quite well, developing a rapport that lasts through the whole session. The take a haunting and exploratory music on the album's centerpiece ”All True Night / Future Perfect” begins in a melancholy mood before shifting into a lush medium tempo improvisation of probing bass and cymbals, that builds speed but not power, as the trio gains as much traction from their restraint as their muscle. Several of the latter pieces on the album are also quiet and reserved like “Cracking Hearts” which opens with very soft percussion and brushes making for a hushed air. The trio develops a watery and viscous feel where Cleaver’s subtle and unhurried percussion is the key, ever shifting like dunes of sand or waves at sea. “Silver Ghosts” continues this theme with spare and spacious solo piano beginning the performance before bass and drums build in. They frame Taborn’s excursions as cascades of notes pour forth. Equally open ended is “Silver Days of Love” with chords and notes of piano and minimal taps of percussion. The music seems suspended in space and time and takes quite a bit of concentration to follow. “Speak the Name” concludes the album with gently rolling drums and developing piano. They slowly ramp up the pace of the performance, developing into a more active mid-tempo. Building to a welcome crescendo, they slowly descend and conclude. Chants -

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