Taborn in 2008
|Birth name||Craig Marvin Taborn|
February 20, 1970 |
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
|Website||Taborn "doesn’t have, or want, his own website"|
Craig Marvin Taborn (born February 20, 1970, in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an American pianist, keyboardist and composer. Also playing organ and Moog synthesizer, Taborn has worked mostly in jazz, although he also does dark ambient and techno music.
Early life 
Craig Taborn's parents were John, a psychologist, and Marjorie, a social worker. Growing up in Golden Valley, Minnesota, Taborn attended Breck School. He borrowed records from a public library and listened to public radio, finding music from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and Sun Ra, among others. His parents gave him a Moog synthesizer for his twelfth birthday, which was also around when he started playing piano.
Taborn studied music theory and composition with university teachers for two years at high school. While at high school, he borrowed from the library Segments II (Orchestra Of Two Continents) by Cecil Taylor, but found separating the various elements of the music too difficult. After attending a Last Exit concert (a loud free jazz band of Peter Brötzmann, Bill Laswell, Ronald Shannon Jackson and Sonny Sharrock), he went home and listened to the Taylor album again: "It was more manageable in terms of being able to hear detail and listen to content. That was a big moment in terms of being able to relax and process information in more abstract environments."
He went on to study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He auditioned for the jazz program in the university's School of Music, but joined the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.
Music career 
While still a university student, he became known for his membership of saxophonist James Carter's band, where he contributed to a series of albums, beginning with "JC on the Set", which was recorded in 1993. Performances and tours with Carter and others meant that his studies were delayed: he graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in general studies (rather than the intended English literature) in April 1995, after which he moved to New York. His first recording as leader came in 1994: Craig Taborn Trio, with bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Tani Tabbal. It featured his playing in a range of styles on piano and included several of his own compositions. At this stage in his career, his comments on his tastes in composition and performance were:
Even though I like avant garde jazz and classical music, I like to swing. I like to work with harmony and melody in my own music, and I like acoustical instruments. But I can be quite dictatorial about the composed section, and lay down in great detail what everyone is supposed to do and how they should do it.
During the 1990s he also worked with Mat Maneri, Roscoe Mitchell, Nate Smith, Lotte Anker, David Binney, Wayne Krantz, Adam Rogers and others. In the late 1990s he collaborated with techno producer Carl Craig, recording Programmed as part of Innerzone Orchestra.
In 2001 he made his first recordings under the leadership of Tim Berne, and with the Susie Ibarra trio. In the same year, he made his second recording as leader: Light Made Lighter, with Chris Lightcap on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. "On the strength of this recording," wrote the Los Angeles Times reviewer, "Taborn emerges as one of the most exciting pianists to lead a band since the ascent of Matthew Shipp". Another reviewer commented that "Taborn seems to revel in the cracks the way Monk did, hitting the awkward-sounding notes between the notes to punctuate his lines". He went on to work, in 2002, with Dave Douglas, Hugh Ragin, and the Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik; with Marty Ehrlich in 2003; Drew Gress in 2004, and Chris Potter, from 2005. His third release as a leader was Junk Magic in 2004, with tenor saxophonist Aaron Stewart, violinst Mat Maneri and drummer Dave King. The album's title was also the name of the band, which was formed to be Taborn's electronic group, allowing him to explore the interactions of composition, improvisation and electronics. He played the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2007. He remarked in 2008 that he was attempting to phase out his use of a laptop in performance, to allow him to concentrate more on improvising.:48
In late 2007 and early 2008, Taborn toured internationally with Chris Potter’s Underground, as well as being part of shorter tours and making occasional appearances with Gerald Cleaver, Drew Gress, Susie Ibarra, Roscoe Mitchell, and William Parker.:50 In April 2008 he toured Europe with Tim Berne's Science Friction,:48 and was back in Europe for the first three weeks of the following month, this time as part of David Binney’s quartet.:50
He has worked with many other musicians, including David Torn, Michael Formanek, and Tomasz Stanko, as well as with members of The Bad Plus, having grown up with that band's drummer, David King and bassist, Reid Anderson. His first solo album, Avenging Angel, was released in 2011. Taborn toured internationally with Dave Holland's quartet "Prism" in 2012.
A further ECM album, Chants, led by Taborn and with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver, was released in April 2013. This was the band's first release after eight years together. For this album, Taborn's comments on composition and group performance were:
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'd much rather engage with the group, always, than have the format be 'piano adventures with supporting cast'.
Playing style 
In an interview for Down Beat in 2011, Taborn described his improvising style, particularly for solo piano. When playing, he often adopts a modular approach, using small units of melody and rhythm and then developing them. This can begin from as little as three notes, with structure being built around referring back to elements of the units. He starts simply, using basic elements such as major and minor thirds, varies them in turn, and then continues to expand to create larger structures.
Taborn has commented on the similarities and differences in his playing on piano and electronic instruments. Comparing his accompaniments on piano and Fender Rhodes, he said that:
I play some of the same chords on the piano, but there are definitely things I would do on the piano because it's a more transparent instrument that I wouldn't do on the Rhodes. [...] The Rhodes is so strong that when you play something on it, it really can dictate, because it’s louder and the timbre is much more opaque. So you leave more holes. On the piano, I would maybe play more sustain chords.
Taborn prefers earlier models of Fender Rhodes, for their raunchier sound. He also attempts to retain control over the sound that is presented to an audience when playing electronic instruments: he links his instruments to his own amplifier, and then has the venue take its feed from that amplifier.:48
Collaborator David Torn commented that Taborn is "the rare musician who takes the approach, 'What can I do with this instrument?' rather than playing through its book of techniques": the sound at any moment takes priority.:50
Down Beat critics in 2011 chose Taborn as winner of the electric keyboard category, as well as, unusually, rising star in both the piano and organ categories; in the previous year, he had won the rising star in electric keyboard category. In 2012, Taborn was chosen for the North Sea Jazz Festival's Paul Acket Award, which is given "to an artist deserving wider recognition for their extraordinary musicianship".
An asterisk after the year indicates that it is the year of release.
As leader 
|1994||Craig Taborn Trio||DIW||Trio, with Jaribu Shahid (bass), Tani Tabbal (drums)|
|2001||Light Made Lighter||Thirsty Ear Recordings||Trio, with Chris Lightcap (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)|
|2004||Junk Magic||Thirsty Ear Recordings||Quartet, with Aaron Stewart (tenor sax), Mat Maneri (viola), Dave King (drums)|
|2011||Avenging Angel||ECM||Piano solo|
|2012||Chants||ECM||Trio, with Thomas Morgan (bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums)|
As sideman 
|2005||Lotte Anker||Triptych||Leo Records|
|2005||Lotte Anker||Live at the Loft||ILK Music||Trio, with Gerald Cleaver (drums); in concert|
|2008||Lotte Anker||Floating Islands||ILK Music|
|2001||Tim Berne||The Shell Game||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2001||Tim Berne||Science Friction||Screwgun|
|2003||Tim Berne||The Sublime And||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2003–2004||Tim Berne||Hard Cell Live||Screwgun|
|2005||Tim Berne||Feign||Screwgun||Trio, with Tom Rainey (drums)|
|2003||David Binney||Welcome to Life||Mythology|
|2006||David Binney||Cities and Desire||Criss Cross|
|2006||David Binney||Out of Airplanes||BK|
|2009*||David Binney||Third Occasion||Mythology|
|2011||David Binney||Graylen Epicenter||Mythology|
|2010||Rob Brown||Unknown Skies||Rogue Art||Trio, with Nasheet Waits (drums); in concert|
|1993||James Carter||JC on the Set||Columbia|
|1994||James Carter||Jurassic Classics||Columbia|
|1994||James Carter||The Real Quietstorm||Atlantic|
|1996||James Carter||Conversin' with the Elders||Atlantic|
|1998||James Carter||In Certain Fashion||Atlantic|
|2008||Gerald Cleaver||Farmers by Nature||AUM Fidelity|
|2009||Gerald Cleaver||Be It as I See It||Fresh Sound||Also credited to "Uncle June"|
|2010||Gerald Cleaver||Out of This World's Distortions||AUM Fidelity||As the band "Farmers by Nature"|
|2005||Scott Colley||Architect of the Silent Moment||Cam Jazz|
|2009||Scott Colley||Empire||Cam Jazz||Quintet, with Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Bill Frisell (electric guitar), Brian Blade (drums)|
|2002–2003||Marty Ehrlich||Line on Love||Palmetto||With Michael Formanek (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)|
|2010||Shane Endsley||Then the Other||Low Electrical Records||Quartet, with Matt Brewer (bass), Ted Poor (drums)|
|2009||Michael Formanek||The Rub and Spare Change||ECM||With Tim Berne and Gerald Cleaver|
|2011||Michael Formanek||Small Places||ECM||With Tim Berne and Gerald Cleaver|
|2007*||Gang Font||The Gang Font Feat. Interloper||Thirsty Ear|
|2003*||Ya Ya Fornier||Bearcat||Random Chance|
|2004||Drew Gress||7 Black Butterflies||Premonition|
|2004||Drew Gress||The Irrational Numbers||Premonition||With Tim Berne (alto sax), Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Tom Rainey (drums)|
|2001||Susie Ibarra||Songbird Suite||Tzadik||Trio, with Jennifer Choi (violin)|
|2000*||Bill Laswell||Dub Chamber 3||ROIR|
|2007*||Bill Laswell||Inamorata||Ohm Resistance||Credited to "Method of Defiance"; Taborn plays on one track|
|2010||Chris Lightcap||Deluxe||Clean Feed|
|2000||Mat Maneri||Blue Decco||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2001||Mat Maneri||Sustain||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2005||Meat Beat Manifesto||At the Center||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2004||Mat Maneri||Pentagon||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
|2010||Nicole Mitchell||Emerald Hills||Rogue Art|
|1997||Roscoe Mitchell||Nine to Get Ready||ECM||With "The Note Factory" (including Matthew Shipp as second pianist)|
|2001||Roscoe Mitchell||Song for My Sister||PI|
|2004||Roscoe Mitchell||Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3||ECM||Band includes Evan Parker|
|2005||Roscoe Mitchell||Turn||Rogue Art|
|2007||Roscoe Mitchell||Far Side||ECM||With "The Note Factory" (including Vijay Iyer as second pianist); in concert|
|1999*||Francisco Mora Catlett||World Trade Music||Community Projects|
|2005*||Francisco Mora Catlett||River Drum||Premier Cru|
|2007||Francisco Mora Catlett||Outerzone||Premier Cru|
|2010*||Francisco Mora Catlett||Outerzone 2010 Andromeda M-31||AACE|
|2011||Francisco Mora Catlett||Live At The Bronx Museum||AACE|
|2002||Eivind Opsvik||Overseas||Fresh Sound|
|2004||Eivind Opsvik||Overseas II||Fresh Sound|
|2004||Evan Parker||Boustrophedon||ECM||Band includes Roscoe Mitchell|
|2005||Chris Potter||Underground||Sunnyside||With Adam Rogers, Wayne Krantz (guitar), Nate Smith (drums)|
|2007||Chris Potter||Follow the Red Line – Live at the Village Vanguard||Sunnyside|
|2009||Chris Potter||Ultrahang||ArtistShare||With Adam Rogers, Nate Smith|
|2011||Chris Potter||The Sirens||ECM||With David Virelles, Larry Grenadier, Eric Harland|
|1999||Hugh Ragin||An Afternoon in Harlem||Justin Time|
|2012*||Mike Reed||Clean On The Corner||482 Music||Also credited to "People, Places & Things"|
|2007||Pete Robbins||Do the Hate Laugh Shimmy||Fresh Sound New Talent|
|1997||David Rogers||The World is Not Your Home||Jumble|
|2010||Leo Sclavis||Eldorado Trio||Clean Feed|
|2011||Alex Sipiagin||Destinations Unknown||Criss Cross||Sextet, with Chris Potter (tenor sax), David Binney (alto sax), Boris Kozlov (bass), Eric Harland (drums)|
|2002–2004||Wadada Leo Smith||Lake Biwa||Tzadik|
|2001||Assif Tsahar||Embracing the Void||Hopscotch|
|2005||David Torn||Prezens||ECM||With Tim Berne (alto sax), Tom Rainey (drums)|
|2004*||The Val-Inc. Remixes||Thirsty Ear Recordings|
- Canter, Andrea (April 22, 2013) "A Craig Taborn Homecoming: 'Heroic Frenzies' at the Walker, April 26th" Jazz Police..
- Kennedy, Gary W. "Taborn, Craig (Marvin)" The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.) (online).
- Espeland, Pamela (February 1, 2008) "Keyboardist Craig Taborn surfaces with Underground" MinnPost.
- "New York jazz pianist Craig Taborn talks to Chicago's Rob Clearfield" (September 8, 2011) Chicago Reader.
- Doerschuk, Bob (August 2011) "Craig Taborn: Illuminating Ideas" Down Beat, p. 42.
- Woodford, John (June 1995) "Non-Piano Man" Michigan Today.
- Layne, Joslyn "Craig Taborn: Biography" AllMusic. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Dryden, Ken "Craig Taborn Trio: review" AllMusic. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
- Chinen, Nate (January 15, 2009) "Holding Jazz Electronica to a Higher Standard" The New York Times.
- "Innerzone Orchestra: Programmed" (September 13, 1999) CMJ New Music Report, p. 58.
- Reich, Howard (November 11, 2001) "Pianist Craig Taborn Comes Into His Own" Los Angeles Times.
- Henrdrickson, Tad (November 19, 2001) "Craig Taborn Trio: Light Made Lighter" CMJ New Music Report, p. 24.
- Fordham, John (December 5, 2009). "The Guide: music: Craig Taborn: London", The Guardian, p. 29.
- "Junk Magic: review" AllMusic. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
- Canter, Andrea (April 18, 2013) "Frenzied Hero: Craig Taborn on Composition, Creativity and Collaboration" The Jazz Police.
- Panken, Ted (September 2008) "Keyboard Wizard: Unraveling Craig Taborn's Electric (And Acoustic) Soundscapes" Down Beat.
- Adler, David R (August 9, 2011) "Craig Taborn: Alone, at Last" JazzTimes.
- Hum, Peter (June 25, 2012) "Prism filled air with vivid, visceral music" Ottawa Citizen.
- North Sea Jazz.
- "Craig Taborn Trio @ Baltimore – April 30" JazzTimes. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
- Garelick, Jon (November 21–27, 2003) "Going electric: Craig Taborn and the Fender Rhodes" The Boston Phoenix.
- "2011 DownBeat Critics Poll" Down Beat.
- "2010 DownBeat Critics Poll" Down Beat.
- "Craig Taborn winner of the Paul Acket Award 2012" North Sea Jazz.