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Recently hailed by Down Beat as "one of the visionaries of the current wave", American pianist Craig Taborn has a unique perspective on creative music-making. Just as his album Avenging Angel subverted expectations of solo improvised piano, so does Chants find its own response to the vast tradition of the piano trio, marking out some new musical ground, with its strikingly original compositions and inspired improvising.

The pieces that Taborn has been writing for the band in its eight years of existence are set up to generate a new group music by channelling the special skills of drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan. "I knew that if I created a context and then deferred, fully, to Gerald's and Thomas's sensibilities it would inherently be stimulating and would also challenge the context. I wanted to invite that challenge: I'd much rather engage with the group, always, than have the format be 'piano adventures with supporting cast'".

Morgan and Cleaver share the leader's concern for compositional shape and multi-layered improvisational detail, as the music is pulled between the poles of density and spaciousness, to dramatic and thrilling effect. Chants, the first release by the Craig Taborn Trio, was recorded in New York in June 2012, produced by Manfred Eicher.

These are players who know each other well. Taborn and Gerald Cleaver first played together in the late 80s as students in Michigan. They made their ECM debuts together in 1997 with Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory, and both play in Michael Formanek's quartet, an association documented on the ECM recordings The Rub And Spare Change and Small Places. Cleaver and Thomas Morgan currently also comprise half of Tomasz Stanko's New York Quartet (see Wislawa). Cleaver's many credits include ECM discs with Miroslav Vitous while Morgan's include 2013's City of Broken Dreams with the Giovanni Guidi Trio.

Personnel: Craig Taborn (piano), Thomas Morgan (double bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)


  1. Name
  2. Saints
  3. Beat The Ground
  4. In Chant
  5. Hot Blood
  6. All True Night / Future Perfect
  7. Cracking Hearts
  8. Silver Ghosts
  9. Silver Days Or Love
  10. Speak The Name
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