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Play the music of Craig Taborn and Chris Speed loud


Craig Taborn, "Daylight Ghosts" (ECM)

Chris Speed is one of the better young tenor saxophonists and clarinetists in all of jazz. He was just in town a couple weekends ago playing with guitarist Mary Halvorson in the invaluable Albright-Knox Art of Jazz series. As if that weren't enough to bring this thorny, abstract but intermittently formidable record to the forefront of local attention, Speed is the son-in-law of senior Buffalo weather seer Don Paul, whose daughter Leah is, herself a pop composer with a record just coming out ("We Will Do the Worrying").

Speed is the reed voice in this quartet record by Craig Taborn, the fine composer and pianist from Minneapolis whom we first got to hear locally years ago in the great group assembled by powerhouse Detroit saxophonist James Carter to play in the late, lamented Calumet Cafe. Taborn has since been a much-recorded fellow traveler with the Chicago Avant-Garde, among other players.

"I am really a sound guy," Taborn says in the publicity to this disc. "After all, what's music but a collection of sounds arranged in some evolving narrative. I tend to listen to things loud and with a certain focus so that I can hear as much detail in the sound as possible."

Taborn says insightfully that Speed is a saxophonist much like Sun Ra's John Gilmore in his ability to allow what is often a lead instrument "tuck back into the band." This is not, by nature, loud music. But if you play it as loud as Taborn prefers, it will, most assuredly justify the sonic foreground and then some. But then that's what the composer pianist wants.

3 stars (out of four)

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