Avenging Angel (ECM; 2011)
Stripped bear of the technology of Taborn's last few outings as leader and sideman, Avenging Angel (ECM) is simply put---PERFECT. Taborn has always been a musician who loves to play with space and technique and here you get to experience the heart and soul of his compositions.
Avenging Angel has the elements of a classic recital as well the energy of a intimate improvised session. Opening gently on the rolling patterns of "The Broad Day King", Taborn gives a good indication of the albums main themes--expressionism along on a journey of unknown discovery. Taborn is making a massive statement utilizing very little space. The notes are sparse but crisp. The intimacy and intensity of these pieces is gripping, chilling and enveloping.
"Glossolalia" with it's repetitive theme and roller coaster movements invites you on a trail that builds to great yet subtle highs and quickly disappears. "Spirit Hard Kick" is a similar movement in which Taborn exercises the space on the keys with fast paced rhythms and thoughts which eventually encompass the listener in a wash of beautiful sounds. "Forgetful" may be the most lush and focused piece on Avenging Angel. A romantic ballad with a European classical feel to it. Touching, drifting and affective.
The piano is at the heart of Avenging Angel and Craig Taborn has made it sound more simple, sweet and beautiful than you can imagine. His compositions stripped bare allow you hear a musician who will hopefully gain wider recognition from this album and who is thinking on a divergent path than many of his contemporaries. Excellent stuff.