Gerald Cleaver / William Parker / Craig Taborn: Farmers By Nature (2009)
The aptly named Farmers By Nature is a completely improvised live date that whispers "wait for it, wait... now, there it is." Just like farming, the seeds of improvised sound are scattered; some lay fallow and others bear delicious fruit.
Bassist William Parker, drummer Gerald Cleaver and pianist Craig Taborn have worked together in numerous groups and countless styles from large ensembles to solo outings and from free jazz to hard bop. They were last heard on disc as the rhythm section for saxophonist Rob Brown's Crown Trunk Root Funk (AUM Fidelity, 2008).
The connections are apparent from the first few notes. This session, recorded in June, 2008 at New York's The Stone, is a simple piano/bass/drums trio. Taborn, an adventuresome technology freak, completely eschews the electronics here. The veteran pianist has played with seemingly everyone including James Carter, Tim Berne, Dave Douglas and Steve Coleman. His approach, and those of Cleaver and Parker, is to grow each track organically, never forcing the music in a specific direction.
Certainly germinating the music might seem unnatural for fans of Cleaver, who have heard him swing hard on sessions with Jeremy Pelt, JD Allen, Mario Pavone and on his own Gerald Cleaver's Detroit (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008). But here his playing is reserved without sounding constrained. Expressing the pulse in small gestures he compliments his partners, especially Taborn's penchant to duck and dive.
The two longest tracks, "Cranes" and "Not Unlike Number 10," might be the most satisfying. The trio's wanderings solidify into a hearty meal that never seems possible from the threads the band begins with. Parker is an old hand at making something from nothing, and his hands on the double-bass project such energy that it is nearly impossible to deny his vibe.
Instantaneous music-making such as this might have limited appeal, but will likely satisfy those with a patient commitment to improvised sound.
Track Listing: Korteh Khah; The Night; Cranes; Not Unlike Number 10; In Trees; Fieda Mytlie.
Personnel: Gerald Cleaver: drums; William Parker: bass; Craig Taborn: piano.