Friday, February 1, 2008

MinnPost: Craig Taborn

Maybe because I studied piano, I have a special affection for keyboard players: Bill Carrothers, Brad Mehldau, Keith Jarrett, Benny Green, Dave Brubeck, Bill Charlap, Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdes, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Danilo Perez, Cyrus Chestnut, Eliane Elias, Fred Hersch, McCoy Tyner, Geoff Keezer, Jason Moran, Jon Weber, Marcus Roberts, Rene Rosnes, Ethan Iverson.... These are all artists I've been privileged to see live, and I could go on. Around Minneapolis-St. Paul we have several superb pianists I enjoy: Phil Aaron, Tanner Taylor, Peter Schimke, Mary Louise Knutson, Laura Caviani, Chris Lomheim, Bryan Nichols, and I know I'm omitting more I should mention.

Craig Taborn, who grew up here but now makes the world his home, plays all the keyboards and spends most of his time on the outer edges of jazz. I find him endlessly interesting live and on recording. He's the topic of my MinnPost column this week. I did not interview Taborn for the article, but you can read a fairly recent interview on Splendid and hear clips from Junk Magic, his latest CD as a leader.

We last saw Taborn at the Monterey Jazz Festival, and this is what it was like:

Taborn tells the audience that Potter [saxophonist Chris Potter, who's in the audience] wants to hear “Little Red Machine,” so that’s where they begin. The music is complex, smart, and concentrated. Long passages become trancelike and hypnotic; there’s repetition, but repetition like a heartbeat; you don’t want it to stop. Taborn plays with a sense of fun (as the set winds down, he smiles frequently at the other members of his trio) and fierce intelligence. Following the tune he announces as their final piece, he nods and they segue into a lush, melodic, chord-filled version of Sun Ra’s “Love in Outer Space.” It’s breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect end to a music-filled night.

Photo: Craig Taborn at the Monterey Jazz Festival, September, 2007.
Monterey performance description from Jazz Police.

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