I made it out last night to Craig Taborn's residency at the Stone to hear the improvising group Farmers by Nature with Gerald Cleaver and William Parker. It was my first experience seeing them live, and the room was packed with free jazz musicians and aficionados. Before they started playing Gerald Cleaver remarked to the audience, "So should we pray now or later"?, perhaps in response to the hushed expectation that was beginning to electrify the room.
As they started playing the music immediately had a very physical, tactile feeling, especially watching Craig Taborn and William Parker. There was nothing "abstract" about their improvising, everything felt rooted in the body.....or in the earth? Does the name of the band imply something to this effect? "Farmers" of the primordial soil of music?
Every time I see Craig Taborn play the piano I'm struck by the way he's able to completely transform the instrument through the power of his musical imagination and staggering technique. There's always a moment where my ears stop registering the sounds as originating from the piano and the music enters a transcendent realm of pure sound.