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Farmers By Nature: Love and Ghosts

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The abundance of talent, trust, self-confidence, patience and intuition required to collectively improvise at such a high level for more than an hour at a time is possessed by the three members of Farmers by Nature and precious few others. The trio’s third release is a two-CD set composed of back-to-back concerts in France in June 2011. Each concert is a vast canvas, large enough for detailed interactions to become contextualized, shaped by shifting moods and silences. There are instant gratifications, such as hearing the arco bass of William Parker blazing and burrowing sonic trails near the onset of the Marseille concert. (During the 18-minute “Love and Ghosts” portion, to be more specific; the ongoing 70-minute performance is tagged with five song titles in the interest of organization.) And there are the subtler stretches requiring keener listening, as with the extended opening to the concert in Besançon the next night, which slowly works into an incandescent ostinato from pianist Craig Taborn and response by Parker and drummer Gerald Cleaver.

Parker, the elder statesman here, is accustomed to absorbing outsized personalities like Cecil Taylor and David S. Ware. Indeed, he appears on some of the Taylor discs that exerted a profound influence on Taborn back in high school. Taborn has been playing with Cleaver since they met in college decades ago. All three performed in various combinations together in challenging free-jazz ensembles before forming Farmers by Nature. Being a jazz musician has its thankless travails, but the level of satisfaction that must ensue in each member from such profound teamwork is a rare treasure.

Originally Published