The trio has been together for eight years, and toured widely, but Craig Taborn’s relationships with drummer and bassist stretch back further still. Taborn and Gerald Cleaver first played together 25 years ago when they were students at the University of Michigan. “I was from Minneapolis and didn’t know anybody. Gerald was from Detroit and was already playing. He had connections and we started working together in Detroit, with James Carter and others.” Taborn and Cleaver made their ECM debuts together in 1997, when both of them were members of Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory (see “Nine To Get Ready”), and they have played in many contexts since, including earlier incarnations of Craig’s trio. Both pianist and drummer play in Michael Formanek’s quartet, an association documented on the ECM recordings “The Rub And Spare Change” and “Small Places”.
Taborn has known Thomas Morgan since the bassist was a teenage student at the Manhattan School of Music, and has closely followed his development. Craig played with Thomas in saxophonist David Binney’s group, by which time Morgan was drawing a lot of attention as the most interesting young bassist on the New York scene. “I don’t think I could play this particular music [on “Chants”] with a different bassist. Thomas is perceived perhaps as a great ‘free’ bassist but if you give him material there is nobody who honours the compositional fabric more than he does. He is really rigorous about holding onto the essential concept and helping to realize it. There are challenging aspects to this music and quite complex structures – he welcomes that. So does Gerald.”
Gerald Cleaver and Thomas Morgan continue to refine their deep musical understanding inside and outside the Taborn Trio. The two musicians currently also comprise half of Tomasz Stanko’s New York Quartet (see the new double album “Wisława”). Cleaver’s many recording credits also include ECM discs with Miroslav Vitous (“Universal Syncopations II” and “Remembering Weather Report”), while Thomas Morgan’s appearances on the label include John Abercrombie’s “Wait Till You See Her”, Masabumi Kikuchi’s “Sunrise”, and the newly released “City of Broken Dreams” with the Giovanni Guidi Trio.