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Craig Taborn
JUNK MAGIC
(Thirsty Ear)

Pianist/programmer Craig Taborn is one of the younger generation of jazz musicians hitching onto hip-hop and DJ culture, and here he produces a kind of electronica chamber jazz ó a far remove from the jam-band grooves of, say, John Scofield and Medeski Martin & Wood and more in keeping with other artists (like Matthew Shipp) on Thirsty Earís Blue Series. That means spooky out-of-phase slow-moving saxophone and viola lines over trippy xylophone figures before the heavy drum programming and noise kick in on the title track. Itís not quite chill-out and not quite dance-floor, either, and the result can be monotonous until Aaron Stewartís tenor and Mat Maneriís viola return with complicated jumping unison lines on "Mystero." Maneri, in particular, provides his usual uncanny conversational solos throughout.

At times, as on "Shining Through," the music leaves the dance club entirely and gets downright serial. But the masterwork here, worth the price of admission, is the closing "The Golden Age," which begins with raga-like drones and builds with sure deliberation over the course of its 11 minutes ó a mini-sonata for viola and electronics that eschews club cultureís moment-to-moment thrills in favor of a narrative emotional payoff.

BY JON GARELICK


Issue Date: June 25 - July 1, 2004
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