Thursday, February 15th, ISSUE presents the debut of its new Syncretics Series, a series of concerts featuring solo and duo performances by artists at highest level of their craft curated by Chris McIntyre. The opening event features two of the most revered and sought-after pianists in the experimental improvisation scene, Craig Taborn and Kris Davis. In addition to kicking off the new series, the Feb. 15 concert celebrates the release of Davis and Taborn’s forthcoming live duo piano recording Octopus. The concert features individual solo sets and culminates with a duo performance of both new compositions as well as several included on the record.
As soloists, collaborators, and composers, Ms. Davis and Mr. Taborn have both received accolades from across the critical spectrum. Hailed by Downbeat Magazine in 2016 as “one of most critically acclaimed players in jazz,” Davis’ various projects as performer and composer have situated her as a leading voice in the creative music scene. In her solo and ensemble recordings, Davis consistently demonstrates both composure and intensity. Of her solo recording Aeriol Piano, Ben Ratliff of the NY Times boasts that “it’s seriously good, a kind of logical crossing of Morton Feldman and [Keith] Jarrett, with her own touch and strong sense of compositional organization framing the soloing.”
Mr. Taborn’s illustrious career led the NY Times to say that he is “revered by other pianists and considered by many to be one of jazz music’s few contemporary innovators.” Of his recent quartet record on ECM entitled Daylight Ghosts, The Guardian states that “however far from familiar paths… Taborn strays, he sounds surefootedly convinced of his route, and however private his music, it emits a vivid intensity.”
As a duo, Taborn and Davis evince a nearly telepathic connection, moving through constantly evolving sonic contours with impressive interactive virtuosity. Their collective language (compositional and improvisational) ranges from uncanny levels of quicksilver linear density to states of near motionlessness, never overstaying their welcome within these pianistic microenvironments. Their collaborative relationship is at times fully oppositional and others in magnetic heterophony. Davis’ occasional use of preparation of the strings inside her instrument generates otherworldly textures while Taborn layers ethereal tapestries of sound. These are master musicians searching for a shared liminal space within the confines of the equally tempered modern piano.
Pianist-composer Kris Davis has blossomed as one of the singular talents on the New York jazz scene, a deeply thoughtful, resolutely individual artist who offers “uncommon creative adventure,” according to JazzTimes. Reviewing one of the series of albums that Davis has released over the past decade, the Chicago Sun-Times lauded the “sense of kaleidoscopic possibilities” in her playing and compositions. Davis’ 2013 album as a leader is the quintet set Capricorn Climber (Clean Feed). She made her debut on record as a leader with Lifespan (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2003), followed by more for the Fresh Sound label: the quartet discs The Slightest Shift (2006) and Rye Eclipse (2008), and the trio set Good Citizen (2010). Her 2011 solo piano album on Clean Feed, Aeriol Piano, appeared on Best of the Year lists in The New York Times, JazzTimes and Artforum. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Piano from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in Classical Composition from the City College of New York. She currently teaches at the School for Improvised Music. Regarding her art, JazzTimes declared: “Davis draws you in so effortlessly that the brilliance of what she’s doing doesn’t hit you until the piece has slipped past.”
Craig Taborn is an American pianist, keyboardist and composer who also dabbles in organ and Moog synthesizer. Taborn began playing piano and Moog synthesizer as an adolescent and was influenced at an early stage by the freedom expressed in the recordings of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Sun Ra, and Cecil Taylor. While still at university, Taborn toured and recorded with saxophonist James Carter. He went on to play with numerous other musicians in electronic and acoustic settings, while also building a reputation as a solo pianist. Taborn had released five albums under his own name and appeared on more than 70 as a sideman.