Reviews that mention Craig Taborn

July 18, 2021

Hafez Modirzadeh

Pi Recordings 87

Hafez Modirzadeh, who teaches at San Francisco State University, demonstrates with his 18 (!) compositions here that using saxophone alternate fingering and embouchure adjustments plus tuning a piano with lowered and altered pitches achieve unique intervallic sounds. While individual however, the results are no more difficult than those created by Thelonious Monk or Ornette Coleman. Aiming to approximate the elasticity of Persian poetry, Modirzadeh has really created another texture for exploratory music. Collegial-minded as any professor should be, Modirzadeh doesn’t play on eight tracks, allowing a trio of pianists – Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey or Craig Taborn – liberty to interpret his lines. The other pieces evolve as duets between his tenor saxophone and individual keyboardists. MORE

March 28, 2021

Junk Magic

Compass Confusion
Pyroclastic Records PR 12

Dan Weiss Starebaby

Natural Selection

Pi Recordings P 186

Having established himself as a valuable collaborator with everyone from Vijay Iyer to Evan Parker in the improvised community hasn’t stopped keyboardist Craig Taborn from indulging his love for more beats-oriented music. At the same time he hasn’t abandoned his synergetic ideals with both these high energy discs more concerned with group propulsion than gaudy soloing. Although each CD exists in a post-Fusion universe, the distances between them are major. MORE

March 28, 2021

Dan Weiss Starebaby

Natural Selection
Pi Recordings P 186

Junk Magic

Compass Confusion

Pyroclastic Records PR 12

Having established himself as a valuable collaborator with everyone from Vijay Iyer to Evan Parker in the improvised community hasn’t stopped keyboardist Craig Taborn from indulging his love for more beats-oriented music. At the same time he hasn’t abandoned his synergetic ideals with both these high energy discs more concerned with group propulsion than gaudy soloing. Although each CD exists in a post-Fusion universe, the distances between them are major. MORE

June 22, 2019

Vijay Iyer/Craig Taborn

The Transitory Poems
ECM 2644

Ran Blake/Claire Ritter

Eclipse Orange

Zoning Recordings ZR 1013

Working out original duo-piano strategies are two sets of American improvisers, one of veterans and one made of up of young veterans. Both have chosen to record their creations in concert, but that’s where the parallels stop. Young veterans Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn concentrate on lengthy duets that emphasize compositions, most of which are designed as homage to older piano heroes. Ran Blake and Claire Ritter on the other hand mix solos and duo interpretations plus tracks where Ritter plays with alto saxophonist Kent O'Doherty. Yet the 20 tracks on Eclipse Orange in total time out at 20 fewer minutes than the eight that make up The Transitory Poems. MORE

January 11, 2019

13th Annual Jazz Critics Poll Ballot

2018 NPR Music
Ken Waxman’s Selections

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases

1. Steve Swell Music for Six Musicians Hommage à Olivier Messiaen (Silkheart)

2. Dave Holland/Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Ches Smith Uncharted Territories (Dare2)

3. Roots Magic Last Kind Words (Clean Feed)

4. François Houle/Alexander Hawkins/Harris Eisenstadt You Gotta Have Options (Songlines)

5. Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore After Caroline (Northern Spy)

October 11, 2018

Dave Holland/Evan Parker/Craig Taborn/Ches Smith

Uncharted Territories
Dare2 Records Dare 2-010

By Ken Waxman

Negating the generation gap, Britons, bassist Dave Holland, 71 and saxophonist Evan Parker, 73, join forces with younger Americans, keyboardist Craig Taborn, 48, and percussionist Ches Smith, 44, for an incandescent, two-CD set the nimbly cruises past any differences in age, nationality and orientation. Although playing together for the first-time, the four easily negotiate improvised duos, trio and quartets which commingle Parker’s exploratory leanings with Holland’s solid time sense. MORE

June 11, 2018

Roscoe Mitchell

Bells for the South Side
ECM 2494/2495

Roscoe Mitchell/Montreal-Toronto Art Orchestra

Ride the Wind

Nessa ncd-40

Roscoe Mitchell-Matthew Shipp

Accelerated Projection

RogueArt Rog 0079

Daniel Carter/William Parker/Matthew Shipp

Seraphic Light

AUM Fidelity AUM 106

Something In The Air: The Continued Relevance of Composer/Performer Roscoe Mitchell

By Ken Waxman

More than a half-century after his recording debut, multi-reedist Roscoe Mitchell shows no sign of slowing down as a player or composer. One of the founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM) and the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC), Mitchell, who also teaches, keeps the AEC going alongside experiments with ensembles ranging from duos to big bands. Many of the bigger configurations are pliable however, so what at first appear to be a large ensemble turns out to be several subsets of musicians who more faithfully portray some of Mitchell’s thornier compositions. MORE

April 7, 2018

Kris Davis/Craig Taborn

Pyroclastic Records PR 03


Refined Pieces for Two Pianos

Pépin & Plume No #

176 (Chris Abrahams and Anthony Pateras)

Music in Eight Octaves

Immediata IMMO 11

Eve Risser/Kaja Draksler

To Pianos

Clean Feed CF 448 CD

Scott Walton/Tim Perkis

Applied Cryptography

pfMentum CD 106

Something In The Air: Updating the Conventional Keyboard Duo

By Ken Waxman

Although there were vogues at points from the 1930s to the 1960s for Stride and Boogie Woogie keyboard teams, piano duos have never been as prevalent in jazz as in so-called classical music. Starting in the late 18th Century these programs consisted of performances of works, by among others, Brahms, Schubert, Bartok and Ravel. More recently however with keyboardists cognizant of both notated and improvised music and standard performance configurations liberated, duo piano pieces have become more common in exploratory jazz as these sessions attest. MORE

July 1, 2016

Ches Smith

The Bell
ECM 2747

Reductionist and intervallic, the 10 tracks on percussionist Ches Smith’s CD tiptoe between what could be defined as aleatoric notated-oriented music and the freer sounds of Jazz-improv. Floating and dreamy, tremolo quivers from pianist Craig Taborn plus string judders from violist Mat Maneri often move so close to soporific hypnotics that it’s up to Smith’s percussion add-ons to widen the passages so they advance from rural-road like near-repose to superhighway mobility.

In fact until the third track, the sardonically titled “Isn't It Over”, this near-somnolence stew isn’t thickened enough to project lively as well as languid tones. Only when multi-toned percussion beats and piano key clipping introduce a cop show-like rhythmic emphasis that gradually inflates into variations of Eastern European-like dances, does the session appear to jell. From then on track such as “I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Earth” and “Wacken” more successfully outline Smith’s commitment to sonically negotiate the contrasts between light and darkness, tension and release. Taborn, who usually works in less refined circumstances with the likes of saxophonist Tim Berne, contributes rugged lower-pitched runs to the latter tune, which are given full expression when up against the contrapuntal asides of Maneri, an experienced hand at this sort of playing, having apprenticed in it with his father the late saxophonist Joe As if he was slicing through aluminum foil with a very sharp object, Maneri’s fiddle sweeps on the same tune encourage Smith to output a percussion strategy that clarifies the theme statement. Usually as self-effacing as a social democrat in a room full of rabid Tea Party supporters, Smith steps forward on “I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Earth” with paradiddles, ruffs and collection of cymbal clangs that bulk up the tune as it defines it. MORE

July 6, 2015

Artist Feature

Miya Masaoka
By Ken Waxman

As perhaps the pre-eminent innovator on the multi-string koto, Miya Masaoka is fully committed to the present and future via her compositions, performances and improvisations. But at the same time she stays in touch with her roots, often performing in traditional gagaku or court music ensembles, and took time during a recent Japanese trip to visit a shrine associated with members of the extended Masaoka family who have been priests and Shinto singers at that location since the 15th Century. Next year as well she’ll be the recipient of a Fulbright grant that will allow her to live in Japan for three months at a time, studying koto, gagaku and Noh theatre. “I hope to write a new work or series of works based on the research there,” she says. MORE

March 18, 2015

Nicole Mitchell’s Sonic Projections

The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson
RogueArt ROG-056

By Ken Waxman

Although not as overly programmatic as the recording of Intergalactic Beings her Afro-Futuristic Sci-Fi suite, this CD is another instance of how Nicole Mitchell’s burgeoning compositional chops are keeping pace with her acknowledged command of the flute. With The Secret Escapades of Velvet Anderson Mitchell shines in the triple task of honoring one of her mentors, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson (1929-2010); doing so with a nine-part linked composition in the super-hero vein; and creating all the necessary textures with only a quartet. MORE

December 6, 2014

Artist Feature

Thomas Morgan
By Ken Waxman

Thomas Morgan didn’t have much time for an interview when contacted by TNYCJR. Back in New York for a few days after a couple of months touring overseas with pianist Craig Taborn’s trio and Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s multi-media quintet, within the week he was off across the Atlantic for most of a month to take the bass spot in two different working bands: drummer Jim Black’s trio and Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko’s quartet. Constant touring is just part of life for Morgan, 33, who has been one of the city’s busiest bassist almost since arriving here from his native California 15 years ago. Featured on more than 70 CDs, Morgan honed his skill with as many groups as he can, including those led by veterans such as Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, drummer Paul Motian and guitarists Bill Frisell. MORE

January 8, 2014

Artist Feature:

Ben Goldberg
By Ken Waxman

When Bay area clarinetist Ban Goldberg describes the creative process that constantly compels him to compose new music and seek out new collaborators, he sounds like the partner in a love affair: “When I hear someone I like, I have to play music with him or her. I need that person in my life.”

It may take a while after that first infatuation, but eventually Goldberg composes music which turns this attraction into reality. For instance the genesis of Unfold Ordinary Mind, one of his recent CDs, was the result of hearing tenor saxophone Ellery Eskelin and having a vision of having Eskelin playing alongside tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth, a long-time Goldberg associate. “It’s a palpable feeling I have of how the music will sound,” he relates. That group, filled out by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Nels Cline, plays NYU’s Law Space this month as part of the Winter Jazz Fest; and with pianist Craig Taborn in place of Cline will be part of an extended Goldberg residency at the Stone in February. New Yorkers can also experience Goldberg in a unique January setting at Roulette, as one of four bass clarinetists in pianist Kris Davis’ octet. The reed man, who has never played with either Davis or Taborn before, says he looks forward to the challenges. “It’s scary in the right way,” he affirms. MORE

November 28, 2013

Craig Taborn Trio

ECM 2326

Satoko Fujii

Spring Storm

Libra Records 203-034

Sophie Agnel/John Edwards/Steve Noble


Clean Feed CF 272 CD

Probably the most respected of all Jazz configurations from all parts of the modern spectrum is the archetypal piano, bass and drum trio. Just because it’s the standard modus operandi for stylists ranging from Keith Jarrett and Oscar Peterson to Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal doesn’t means that the end product has to be the same. Especially evident in this trio of disc involving American, French, British and Japanese players is that originality results when the expected hierarchy of the piano-and-rhythm-section is shattered. In each of these discs creation is among equal partners. MORE

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

May 8, 2013

Mike Reed’s People Places & Things

Clean on the Corner
482 Music 482-1081

By Ken Waxman

One of Chicago drummer Mike Reed’s many identities is as a passionate booster of his home town’s music – present, past and future. This fourth CD with the People Places & Things combo is a milestone in that regard. He establishes the long-time sophistication of Second City jazz by blending original lines with ‘50s and ‘60s classics by saxophonists John Jenkins and Roscoe Mitchell. The band consists of some of Chicago’s top-rated players: alto saxophonist Greg Ward, tenor saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Jason Roebke; with cornetist Josh Berman and pianist Craig Taborn each added on two different tracks. MORE

March 15, 2013

Mike Reed’s People Places & Things

Clean on the Corner
482 Music 482-1081

Living By Lanterns

New Myth/Old Science

Cuneiform Records Rune 345

Drummer/bandleader Mike Reed has established himself as, among things, a deft interpreter of Chicago’s progressive music history. Nothing like a neo-con however, rather than imitation or emulation he and his People Places & Things create new variations of the city’s rich 1950s and 1960s Jazz heritage. On these exceptional sessions, he, and sidekicks, alto saxophonist Greg Ward – on both discs– and vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz – on New Myth/Old Science – have taken the next step: integrated their own compositions with earlier ones. MORE

September 5, 2011

Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver

Floating Islands
ILK 162 CD

Nicolas Caloia Quartet


No # No label

Henry Threadgill Zooid

This Brings Us To Volume II

Pi Recording PI 36

William Parker & ICI Ensemble

Winter Sun Crying

Neos Jazz 41008

Something In The Air: Guelph Jazz Festival 2011

By Ken Waxman

--For Whole Note Vol. 17 #1

A highlight of the international calendar, the Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), September 7 to 11, has maintained its appeal to both the adventurous and the curious over 18 years. It has done so mixing educational symposia with populist outdoor concerts, featuring performers ranging from established masters to experimenters from all over the world. MORE

June 20, 2011


Eldorado Trio
Clean Feed CF 193 CD

New Old Luten Trio

White Power Blues

Euphorium EUPH 025

Taking as a starting point the trio instrumentation used superbly by piano experimenters such as Cecil Taylor and Alexander von Schippenbach, these CDs demonstrate improvisational concepts plus a balance between older and younger players. Skillful improvisations, the results produced are completely divergent, if equally significant.

Both recorded live, each session differs from the get-go. A Leipzig meeting, White Power Blues – an apt if somewhat politically incorrect title – celebrates a meeting between 75-year-old reedist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and two improvisers at least 40 years his junior: pianist Elan Pauer and percussionist Christian Lillinger. Petrowsky, along with trombonist Conrad Bauer, pianist Ulrich Gumpert and percussionist Günter Baby Sommer created noteworthy advanced Jazz in the former East Germany. A Sommer- protégé, Berlin-based Lillinger with his own Hyperactive Kid trio and backing players such as saxophonist Henrik Walsdorf, has become a lively, energetic drummer. Meanwhile Pauer ranges over the keyboard while touching on a multiplicity of sonic impulses. In short, the two extended tracks are no-holds-barred Free Jazz. MORE

June 15, 2011

Gerald Cleaver Uncle June

Be It As I See It
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT-375

Program music that avoids the expected, drummer Gerald Cleaver’s Be It As I See It is a finely formed meditation that makes purely musical points. Although based on the Great Migration of American Blacks from the South to the North from the 1920s onwards, Detroit-born, New York-based Cleaver, whose immediate family was involved in the journey, has created a magisterial chamber work which carefully avoids clichés. There are no allusions to south-of-the Mason-Dixon agrarian nostalgia or attempts to musically recreate the gritty urban north. MORE

March 24, 2011

Michael Formanek

The Rub And Spare Change
ECM 2167

Hugo Carvalhais


Clean Feed CF 201 CD

Leadership’s loss is a sideman’s gain as these quartet sessions demonstrate. That’s because alto saxophonist Tim Berne, who hasn’t made a CD under his own name for about half a decade, instead adds his skills to these bassist-led quartet sessions. Instructively as well, while one combo is completed by Americans with whom Berne has often played in the past, the other is made up of younger Portuguese Jazzers who recently toured with the American reedist. MORE

August 8, 2009

Evan Parker Transatlantic Art Ensemble

ECM 1873

A rare – and exceptional – foray into partially scored and conducted music for British saxophonist Evan Parker, this eight-part work for a 14-piece ensemble realizes its lofty goals because the composed sections are cleverly counterbalanced by the improvisations.

Boustrophedon – an ancient word describing a method of writing one line from left to right, the subsequent one from right to left and so on – reflects the CD’s parallel methodology as well. While Parker directs a seven-piece group of experienced European improvisers, American saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell does the same with seven, equally proficient, Americans. Much of the boustrophedon movement involves comparable exposure from matched instrumentalists such as the two bassists, two percussionists and two fiddlers. Meanwhile singular soloists like pianist Craig Taborn, cellist Marcio Mattos or flutist Neil Metcalfe cleanly negotiate the fissure between Eurocentric and American-inflected Free Music. Taborn, for instance, adds styled glissandi, tinkling portamento story-telling and formalistic note clusters to “Furrow 2”, but metronomic rhythmic chording to “Furrow 4”. MORE

May 20, 2009

Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver

Live at the Loft
ILK 148 CD

Lotte Anker/Sylvie Courvoisier/Ikue MoriV

Alien Huddle

Intakt CD 144

Germinating notable improvised music is more a function of intellect and emotion than gender, race or geography – as these sessions led by Danish reedist Lotte Anker demonstrate. Live at the Loft, recorded in Köln, finds her playing with pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver, both American and male. Alien Huddle on the other hand, was recorded in New York, and features the Dane in the company of two other non-Americans or aliens: Swiss-born pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and Japanese-born electronics-manipulator Ikue Mori, both of whom, like Anker, are female. MORE

May 20, 2009

Lotte Anker/Sylvie Courvoisier/Ikue Mori

Alien Huddle
Intakt CD 144

Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver

Live at the Loft

ILK 148 CD

Germinating notable improvised music is more a function of intellect and emotion than gender, race or geography – as these sessions led by Danish reedist Lotte Anker demonstrate. Live at the Loft, recorded in Köln, finds her playing with pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver, both American and male. Alien Huddle on the other hand, was recorded in New York, and features the Dane in the company of two other non-Americans or aliens: Swiss-born pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and Japanese-born electronics-manipulator Ikue Mori, both of whom, like Anker, are female. MORE

August 14, 2006


Rogue Art ROG 0003

By Ken Waxman

Forty-plus years on in his recording career, Roscoe Mitchell, arguably the most versatile members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC), continues to surprise.

This CD, featuring the multi-reedman’s most recent working quintet, two of whom – trumpeter Corey Wilkes and bassist Jaribu Shahid – who now fill chairs in the AEC, offers a glimpse at his panoply of talents. With the combo filled out by pianist Craig Taborn and percussionist Tani Tabbal – both of whom recorded as part of Mitchell’s nonet as long ago as 1997 – the five men are able to convey the range and flexibility of a larger band on 14 Mitchell compositions. MORE

January 1, 2006

Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver



By Ken Waxman
January 1, 2006

Known – if at all – in North America for her contributions to Tim Berne’s recording of the open, coma saxophone suite, and her trio appearances with pianist Marilyn Crispell, Danish reedist Lotte Anker has a much higher profile elsewhere.

Moving among free improv, contemporary classical music and a combination of the two, the tenor and soprano saxophonist has composed theatre music and worked in Danish percussionist Marilyn Mazur’s ensembles and American Maria Schneider’s big band. MORE

May 17, 2004


Hopscotch 21

Junk Magic
Thirsty Ear THI 57144.2

Ever since he first appeared on disc as part of his father, reedist Joe Maneri’s, Boston-based microtonal trio, violist Matt Maneri has been turning heads with his playing. Versatile enough to move effortlessly from the harshest excesses of loud, so-called ecstatic jazz to the supplest examples of understated chamber improv, he’s created a legitimate role for the bloated fiddle in exploratory situations. MORE

January 26, 2004


The sublime and. Sciencefrictionlive
Thirsty Ear RHI 57139.2

Qui parle?
Sketch SKE 333038

Leaving well enough alone has never had particular appeal to those involved in creating electrified jazz/rock fusion music. Why keep the volume control knob turned to nine when it can reach 10? And why play for a few minutes when a half-hour or so is available?

Alto saxophonist/composer Tim Berne -- who has proven his talents in many situations ranging from working in standard-size jazz combos to writing for a classical sax quartet -- flirts with excess on this two-CD set, recorded live in Switzerland. While he and drummer Tom Rainey stick to acoustic instruments, the allure of showing off the textures available from Marc Ducret’s guitar(s) and effects and Craig Taborn’s electric piano, laptop computer and virtual organ evidentially prove too seductive. Although in total the Science Friction band session clocks in at 109 minutes, it includes three tunes in the 20-minute range and one that rocks on for more than 30. MORE

December 22, 2003


Line on Love
Palmetto PM 2095

Don’t be put off by the title of this fine CD. Despite similar curly hair and use of saxophone, multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich hasn’t suddenly turned into Kenny G.

Instead he uses the almost 54 minutes of the session to prove that you can perform understated, mellifluous music without insulting anyone’s intelligence. The eight selections score because he and his rhythm section bring the same guts and techniques they would to an out-and-out free blow or technical experiment as they do to these more restrained ditties. MORE

May 5, 2003


Embracing the Void
Hopscotch 9

The Labyrinth
Hopscotch 12

Different as free jazz and New music, on show here are two distinct manifestations of the composing and arranging skills for larger groups by tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar. Both are engrossing, remarkably mature, compositional works for someone best known for his impassioned blowing with the likes of bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake.

EMBRACING THE VOID has a slight edge however. That’s because all 14 members of the Zoanthropic Orchestra appear better able to personalize the emotional cauldron of Tsahar avant jazz pieces than the 19 musicians of the New York Underground Orchestra can contour THE LABYTINTH into a more original form. MORE

February 10, 2003


Atavistic ALP138CD

Science Friction
Screwgun Screwu 013

Just because many -- most? -- of the advances transmitted by jazz-rock fusion had been ground into formula by the early 1980s, doesn’t means that there isn’t scope for exploration with that mixture of highly amplified instruments and improvisation.

Fusion doesn’t have to be what it has become -- bass guitar grandstanding, drummers using more equipment than finesse, and onanistic lead guitar indulgences -- as these two CDs set out to prove. Still its conventions are so strong that you can almost literally hear the musicians struggling to stretch the formula. Whether they prevail is open to interpretation and may depend on your history on the jazz or rock side of the fence. MORE

January 22, 2003


Going To Church
AUM Fidelity AUM 024

Thirsty Ear THI 57122.2

Substantial slices of Maneri music, these two new CDs prove that while violist Mat Manner has internalized the quirky cogitation and execution of his father, reedist Joe Maneri, he’s not adverse to testing out some ideas of his own in different contexts.

Father-son improvisers are nothing new on the jazz scene and have ranged from boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons and his funky tenor saxophonist son Gene Ammons to mainstream pianist Ellis Marsalis and his progeny. But few offspring are as inculcated in his father’s music, as Mat -- born in 1969 -- who began playing music with his father when he was only seven. It’s hardly necessary to point out that Joe -- born in 1927 -- was no mainstream Marsalis. A jobbing musician for years with an interest in ethnic, microtonal and 12-tone composition as well as jazz improvisation, his talent finally got him a gig teaching theory and composition at Boston’s New England Conservatory in 1970. But his single-mindedness left him unrecorded until his belated emergence in the mid-1990s. MORE

September 9, 2002


Song for My Sister
PI Recordings 103

Avant garde jazz fans who remember the 1960s and 1970s have the tendency to come on like moldy figs when they compare the activities of many highly celebrated younger players with the accomplishments of their elders.

Case in point is this CD. For while a few youngsters have been over-praised for merely mastering the intricacies of a particular jazz style -- be it hard bop, modal or even a hip hop take on the New Thing -- reedist Roscoe Mitchell, 62, showcases a lot more.

Mitchell, who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, flute, bass recorder, great bass recorder and percussion on this disc, has also written a set of unmistakably modern tunes that touch on playful R&B, precise swing, Third World anthems, jagged contemporary composition and even Early music. Assisted by eight young and veteran improvisers -- and four more for the “classical” piece -- Mitchell easily slides from one stance and style to another without ever losing his identity or resorting to tonal impersonation. MORE

January 15, 2002


Light Made Lighter
Thirsty Ear 57111

A long time coming, pianist Craig Taborn’s first American date as a leader has been expected since he started making his name as the pianist in saxophonist James Carter’s first quartet in the mid 1990s. Since then he has recorded with the likes of violinist Mat Maneri and avant elder statesman, multi-reedist Roscoe Mitchell and spent time live and on disc in a new electric configuration of altoist Tim Berne’s trio.

Although he sticks to the acoustic piano here, the result still seems diffuse, as if Taborn was in a men’s wear store, trying on different outfits for size in one of those three sectioned, wrap-around mirrors. Barely reflected in that mirror are his accompanists, drummer Gerald Cleaver, who has worked with pianist Mat Shipp and guitarist Joe Morris, and bassist Chris Lightcap, who has been in groups led by Morris and drummer Whit Dickey. MORE

September 11, 2000


Blue Decco
Thirsty Ear TH 57092.2

Mat Maneri may be the savior of jazz violin. If not that, he's definitely it's future.

Long the music's stepchild, with 200 drummers or saxophonists for every Stuff Smith or Joe Venuti, jazz violin banged into the fusion brick wall about 30 years ago when nearly every fiddler tried to emulate Jean Luc Ponty's guitar-god-like string playing. For the past quarter century, though, even Ponty has produced little more than tired retreads of his earlier work.

At the same time the few musicians who found a role for violin in improv musics, were rapidly aging. Except for the work of the equally talented, and slightly older, Mark Feldman, it appeared that jazz violin evolution is linked to the fingers and strings of Maneri.