Keyboardist Craig Taborn is no stranger 'round these parts. His versatile piano playing and use of electronics have certainly been documented in our reviews of his efforts as a leader (check out his solo ECM recording Avenging Angel) and as a sideman (check out his work with Roscoe Mitchell and contemporaries like Christian McBride and Tyshawn Sorey). On Daylight Ghosts, he and his quartet dive deep into the austere and spacious sound that defines the ECM label.
The opener 'The Shining One' begins with a quick exchange between drummer Dave King and woodwind player Chris Speed, who delivers the track's corkscrew theme. Taborn's entrance is subtle and bassist Chris Lightcap delivers a powerful punch before stepping back into a supporting role. The concentric layering of the track's short melodic cells heap on the tension, but when the band seems to be just getting started, the track ends! The following song 'Abandoned Remainder' also starts out slowly, but picks up some heady steam while the group shows off a collection of jagged melodic fragments.
To my ears, it's track 6, 'Ancients' that serves as the centerpiece of Daylight Ghosts. Its lean framework lets the musicians stretch out with concentrated ferocity. I suppose the following 'Jamaican Farewell' feels like a bit of a letdown to me. It is a minimalistic and pretty ballad, but remains just a bit too ephemeral. Throughout, there are stretches where it feels somewhat static, the build is slow, like on the well titled 'The Great Silence' where Speed's clarinet plays forlornly over tiny splashes of chords, but even so, the sound is crisp and small movements make for big moments. These slower tracks are well balanced by others that catch fire like 'Abandoned Remainder' or are irrepressibly buoyant like 'New Glory', and it is these contrasts that make Daylight Ghosts, as a whole, a compelling listen.