on 3 September 2011
I was aware of Craig Taborn as a side man with the likes of Scott Colley, Michael Formanik and David Torn on the formidable "Prezens" CD. He always stood out with his unique style of piano playing within these groups. None of this can prepare you for this exceptional solo work. It is so different to other jazz piano playing and is very much a new direction. He does not sound like anyone else but there are clearly links with previous generations of great pianists. If you like the solo works of Keith Jarrett, this will almost certainly appeal. Because it is different in approach and style to that which Jarret strives for, it will also appeal to those who are not so keen on his work. It is difficult to be sure if it is spontaneously composed but it certainly sounds like it could be. There are couple of "tough" tracks but most of this CD is of rare beauty. There is complex rhythmic playing that he sets up to great effect and many melodies use the percussive side of the piano. This is most noticeable on the magnificent "Glossolalia". Some of it is reminiscent of French impressionist composers such as Satie and Debussy. An artist to nuture and, for me, the jazz CD release of the year so far. Unhesitatingly recommended.
The recording quality is of reference level and above the normal high standards that one expects from ECM. All due credit to Manfred Eicher and engineer Stefano Amerio for this achievement in a world where recording standards seem to be reducing in quality.
on 11 June 2011
For the sake of convenience Craig Taborn can be spoken of alongside names like Jason Moran and Matthew Shipp. All three gentlemen are as concerned with the future of jazz and improvised music as they are with the unquestionably glorious past, but they're not in awe of the latter to the extent that their individual futures lie in rehashing it.
Farmers By Nature, the trio Taborn is a member of alongside bass player William Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver, is a potent reminder of this, and the same goes for this solo piano recital. Indeed it has an edge when it comes to emphasising the extent to which Taborn breaks with the past. On a piece like "Glossolalia" it's clear that he's the opposite of a musician in thrall to his influences. His right hand is rhapsodic but it's clear too that he's not striving for effect.
"Spirit Hard Knock" is one of the most remarkable pieces on offer, being an exercise in both broken syncopation and the power of touch, which in this case has the effect of damping certain keys in a way which makes the piece notably percussive.
The following "Neither-Nor" is an antidote to nostalgia and in its way quite rhetorical about the matter of the music's relationship with the past. It perhaps goes without saying that Taborn comes down on the side of the present, but the level of his digital dexterity is such that anyone looking for a trite description could label him a 21st century Art Tatum and not lose sleep over it.
So this is one of the `jazz' releases of the year not merely because of its level of engagement with now. It's also one because Taborn is in the business of distilling something new that's not about mere novelty. Because he is he's come of age.
on 5 May 2012
A musician who has listened deeply to Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill as well as all the obvious influences on what young pianists play in the 21st century (Monk, Tyner, Duke and the rest). Knotty, ambitious, rhythmically complex and surprising, this is at root beautifully melodic music. Taborn is emerging now as an essential pianist, along with Vijay Iyer. Try Light Made Lighter, which is a trio record and almost as good as this solo performance. Another trio is said to be due from ECM later in 2012. Can't wait.
on 25 February 2014
This new solo album by Craig Taborn should convince anyone still harboring doubts that he is the worthy successor of Keith Jarret's fame. The technique, inventiveness and sheer spirit of this adventurous young jazz pianist is really something to behold. Though Taborn's collaborative projects like Chants and Floating Islands are excellent in their own right, there is something truly unique in the solo piano genre that for me sets artists like Taborn a world apart.
Buy, listen, and listen to again and again... there is a whole continent of sound and texture to be explored on this remarkable ECM release by Craig Taborn!