If jazz can really be described as the sound of surprise, it also involves trust on the part of the listeners. We need to approach the music trusting that the players are really trying to create something expressive rather than simply noodling away. The best music can force us to reconsider our reference points and how they affect our opinion of the music. Craig Taborn did this with his 2011 solo album, Avenging Angel. The pianist who could pour out all sorts of jagged lines with saxophonists Chris Potter and Tim Berne, among others, spent quite a bit of time playing sparse little melodies, one hand plinking a single note while the other hand changed chords. It was stark and didn’t always “go somewhere,” but that was the idea, so it still felt compelling and emotional.
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