Sunday, June 27, 2010

Craig Taborn Speaks

The innovative and daring young pianist/keyboardist/composer gives us glimpses into his process and thinking in an interview with WBGO's Josh Jackson. If you have time, go listen to the whole thing (and download a free concert from the Care Fusion festival) on NPR's excellent "A Blog Supreme." Meanwhile, here are a few illuminating excerpts.

On solos and soloing:
"A lot of my groups have very little soloing going on. It's all group improvisation, and solos may emerge, but it's less geared toward that...It's hard for my improvisational process to dictate solos, or even solo spaces. It's hard for me to say, 'Okay, now there's going to be a saxophone solo,' and have that hold in the moment, because it may not want to happen then...I'd rather just let the musical moment and the musicians themselves decide. If a solo emerges, it emerges because somebody is playing some really interesting material and everybody else decides to let that be at the forefront. For me, that seems like the only reason to really have a solo."

On playing both piano and synthesizers/electronic instruments:
"They're just different instruments and different ways of making music. They don't present to me much of a dichotomy that needs to be bridged...They feed on each other in my playing...I can access a certain kind of technical thing when playing a keyboard, for instance--or anything with buttons, actually. I have a digital dexterity that comes from playing piano, so I can make certain things happen live with synthesizers that is facilitated by having finger and hand independence. If I didn't play piano, I don't know if I'd be able to pull off some of the things I do, just because I can have my left hand doing something while my right hand's doing something else and really not think about it too much."

On playing two leads at once, one with the left hand and one with the right:
"It's all an illusion, but I'm trying to think of two things at once. What that boils down to is a kind of strobing between the ideas, the two hands and the ideas I'm trying to develop...I always to try to work on even more, like maybe if I get a third idea...It's just something I'm continually working on, and trying to hear that way, trying to hear counterpoint, contrapuntal ideas...I'm trying to hear multiple ideas all the time. A lot of that is an extension of things I heard Sun Ra do. "

On what it means to live with music:
"Not to get too Cage-like, but tuning into the environment--it's just sounds in time. Extending that, it's just events in time. For me, living with music is just more of an active participation in that, trying to create things that isolate or abstract from a larger world of sound and organize them in some way. That's the 'art form' I choose. But I think we all live with music all the time."

Thanks to Craig's mom, Marjorie Taborn, for alerting me to this interview and concert.

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