Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dark Poetry

Craig Taborn Trio 

Craig Taborn – Piano
Thomas Morgan – Double Bass
Gerald Cleaver - Drums

Satoko Fujii New Trio
Spring Storm

Satoko Fujii – Piano
Todd Nicholson – Double Bass
Takashi Itani - Drums

I’ve been listening to these two CDs side-by-side in my car changer, and on more than one occasion I’ve confused them in my head. Listening to them sequentially has proven to be instructive, because the two pianists do share some similarities in approach. Both blend classical and jazz influences in unique ways. Both have a brooding, sometimes foreboding style, darker hues with splashes of light. And both build tension through repetition.

Of course, they have their own voices. Taborn’s music takes on an elegiac quality, working phrases over and over, gaining ground slowly. Fujii jump cuts from motif to motif, resulting at times in a jarring transition, yet somehow making sense at the end. And in each case their cohorts are excellent partners, providing just the right colors and accents.

It’s been fascinating to see the progression in the careers of both artists. Taborn in particular has come so far since he was a member of James Carter’s band back in the day. Fujii’s style is more of a known quantity, but still exciting to listen to. These are both among the best new releases I’ve heard in 2013.

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