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Lotte Anker/Craig Taborn/Gerald Cleaver: Live at the Loft

The Beatles’ “Please Please Me” ran just two minutes and three seconds because that’s all John, Paul, George and Ringo needed to say what they had to say. This is the same reason “Magic Carpet,” from saxophonist Lotte Anker, pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver, clocks in at 26:38-they need every second of it.

“Magic Carpet,” the first half of the trio’s second album, Live at the Loft, unfurls patiently and ever so gradually. Anker exhales a few long breaths into her horn. Cleaver drags a stick across a cymbal. Taborn plucks a piano string. Minutes later, the symbiosis evolves into a series of serpentine runs. The three are listening to one another as intently as anyone in the business of music has ever done. And listen they must: Their music is completely free-they took the stage in Cologne, Germany, on June 22, 2005, with no written scores and no preconceived notions.

Over the 26 minutes and 38 seconds of “Magic Carpet” the musicians traverse several peaks and valleys, covering a range of terrains and textures. There is a wonderful passage in the ninth minute where Anker digs into a little phrase she finds, going over it once and again. Taborn, for his part, unearths a perfect little cluster right at the 20-minute mark, and then he engages in a taut exchange with Cleaver as the song heads toward its conclusion. The second track, “Real Solid,” lasts just over 20 minutes and is markedly different-Taborn employs a lot of staccato and Anker puts extra vibrato in her sax, giving the music a shaky sensation. The finale is a tiny little piece, not much more than eight minutes long. That’s all they needed.

Originally Published