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Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts (ECM)

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Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts
Craig Taborn: Daylight Ghosts

The challenge in making a hybrid acoustic/electronic album sound like a genuine blend rests in large part with ensemble play, from which solos emerge—tendrils as extensions of the whole. This four-piece unit, led by Craig Taborn on piano and various electronic accouterments, with Chris Speed taking up tenor saxophone and clarinet, Chris Lightcap on bass and Dave King on drums, proves itself befitting of the specters of the title, moving in diaphanous forms with haunting presence. The economical opener, “The Shining One,” clocking in at three and a half minutes, establishes a number of themes for this program: Taborn’s compact motivic patterns, which don’t sound entirely pianistic or entirely electronic; and the rest of the band’s amoeba-like shape-shifting, where solos have a paradoxical knack for sounding like group refrains, yet each tandem part feels like a solo itself.

The one cover, Roscoe Mitchell’s “Jamaican Farewell,” suggests a natural spiritual kinship for these particular ghosts. Speed’s clarinet has that deep, carbonized hue of some of Eric Dolphy’s work on the instrument, but the sheer singability of the central melody is as bright as a moon rising over Saturn—for these are not quite earthly worlds. The title track similarly breaks open into great beauty with the unit tolling out a series of open chords in unison after a slinking, electro-blues progression over a kind of pushback current—faint but reckonable—from King’s kit. “New Glory,” by contrast, is an outright happy dance, an assaying of piano-led spirits raised and digging the beat, as if to say, “Who ever needed the nighttime anyway?”

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