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Farmers by Nature: Out of This World’s Distortions

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Farmers By Nature is an improvisational trio consisting of Craig Taborn (piano), William Parker (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums). All three have astounding track records in both this open style and more composed works. The title Out of this World’s Distortions does not refer to a fuzzed-out take on the Arlen and Mercer standard “Out of This World,” but to Cleaver’s observation of how good still manages to bloom in the face of adversity. While the album runs in circles in a few spots, the trio wins points for showing how spare moments can have just as much merit as the wilder sections of improvisation.

The sparseness begins early with “For Fred Anderson,” which moves slowly and features Parker bowing some especially mournful melodies. Things really begin to take hold in the 18-minute “Tait’s Traced Traits,” which starts with a loose piano solo, with shifting levels of interaction framed by Cleaver’s knack for throwing down an accented roll in the right places.

Music like this often needs to be examined repeatedly with separate listens devoted to different instruments. Taborn frequently sticks to a few single notes that resonate and decay, which can be frustrating until you realize how those tones dovetail with whining arco bass and the thunderstorm effect coming from the trap kit.

The only example of self-indulgence occurs in the album’s final minutes. Here, the trio slowly builds into a riff that turns into an overly long outro without any real element of embellishment. It’s a rare moment of egotism for players like these, but it doesn’t destroy the focus of the album, either.

Originally Published