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Lotte Anker-Craig Taborn-Gerald Cleaver Trio
Lotte Anker, Craig Taborn, and Gerald Cleaver have been performing and recording as a trio since 2003. In addition to performing across the globe, they have released three critically acclaimed albums: Triptych (Leo Records, 2005), Live at the Loft (ILK-Records, 2009) and Floating Islands (ILK-Records, 2009). Their work as a trio reflects their diverse and broad backgrounds, merging free improvisation with more traditional techniques of composition and structure.
Lotte Anker was born in 1958 in Copenhagen. As a child, she studied classical piano but took up the saxophone and improvised music in 1980, primarily influenced through the music of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter, but also the more experimental jazz scene in Scandinavia at that time. She studied music at the Copenhagen University, participating in several courses and workshops led by Joe Henderson, David Liebman, John Tchicai, Marilyn Mazur, and David Murray. She has played in various Danish/Scandinavian groups, such as Marilyn Mazur’s Primi Band, Two Bass-Hit, Saxmachine, Jazzgroup 90, and Art-Out, and has performed with Peter Brotzmann, Miya Masaoka, Thomas Lehn, Michael Formanek, Tim Berne, Marc Ducret, Paal Nilssen-Love, Mats Gustafsson, and Andrew Cyrille, to name just a few. In addition to working as a composer and saxophonist, Anker has also worked with several theatre and dance groups, like Rickett’s Dance Co. and the Copenhangen Art Ensemble. She has received grants from the State Arts Council and Danish Jazz Launch, won the DJBA Compositional Prize in 2002, and was the BG-Foundation Artist In Residence in 2005. She currently teaches arrangement, composition, and improvisation at the Rhytmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, and has led workshops in Scandinavia, Germany, and Canada. Both as a musician and composer, her main interests are in the worlds of modern/free/improv jazz and contemporary (new) music and the combination of the two.
Jazz pianist and organist Craig Taborn began working professionally in the 1990s in a variety of musical contexts, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to more outside music, with young jazz musicians, seasoned veterans, and even techno artists. In his hometown of Minneapolis, Taborn studied piano, composition, and music theory with local university professors before going away to college. Before he graduated from college, Taborn had already performed on three recordings as a member of the James Carter Quartet. After graduating with a liberal arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1995, DIW released Taborn's first album as a leader, The Craig Taborn Trio. He then moved to New York City, and by the close of the 1990s, he performed on Roscoe Mitchell's 1999 ECM album, Nine to Get Ready, Detroiter Carl Craig's techno-jazz project, Innerzone Orchestra, and on Hugh Ragin's An Afternoon in Harlem. Since the beginning of 2000, Taborn has been performing in Tim Berne's Big Satan and Science Friction, among many other ensembles including those of Susie Ibarra, Chris Potter, Dave Douglas and members of The Bad Plus.
Gerald Cleaver, born in Detroit in 1963, began playing drums, trumpet, and violin at an early age. In his teens, he played with Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hilton, Earl Van Riper, and Pancho Hagood. He earned a BA in music education from University of Michigan and, while there, won a National Endowment For The Arts Jazz Study Fellowship, which led to him studying with Victor Lewis. Upon graduation he taught in the music department at both his alma mater and Michigan State University. Over the years he has worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Hank Jones, Matthew Shipp, Reggie Workman, Joe Morris, William Parker, and Ralph Alessi, to name only a few. In 2002, Cleaver’s Veil of Names group, featuring Mat Maneri, Ben Monder, Andrew Bishop, Craig Taborn, and Reid Anderson, received a Best Debut Recording nomination from the Jazz Journalists Association for their album Adjust. In addition to his many other projects, Cleaver continues to work as a band leader with Uncle June, Violet Hour, and Farmer By Nature.
Michael Formanek’s singular approach to the acoustic bass has led to an impressive range of musical associations. During his thirty-plus year career, he has played and/or recorded with Elvis Costello, Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Marty Ehrlich, Chet Baker, Tony Williams, Gerry Mulligan, Bob Mintzer, Fred Hersch, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Mark Isham, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Terumasa Hino, Cedar Walton, Attila Zoller, George Coleman, Jane Ira Bloom, Bob Moses, Gunther Schuller, Peter Erskine, Joe and Matt Maneri, Gary Thomas, Harold Danko, Dave Burrell, and many others.
Composition also plays a significant role in Formanek’s overall musical profile, and four albums of his original music, Wide Open Spaces, Extended Animation, Low Profile and Nature Of The Beast have been released to critical acclaim on the Enja label. Am I Bothering You, a recording of solo bass performances made for Tim Berne’s Screwgun label, has firmly established itself as an important contribution to that genre. Formanek produced or co-produced all of these recordings and among the featured musicians are Greg Osby, Tim Berne, Mark Feldman, Dave Douglas, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Ku-umba Frank Lacy, Marty Ehrlich, Wayne Krantz, and Jim Black. Formanek received Chamber Music America's New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant for 2000-2001 to compose a new piece for the Tim Berne/Michael Formanek Duo, which was recently performed in Philadelphia as part of the Chamber Music America Encore program for 2007. Formanek was commissioned to compose an original piece for the 150th anniversary of the Peabody Conservatory. The piece, The Open Book for Jazz Soloists with Orchestra, was premiered at Peabody in February of 2007, and featured members of the Peabody Jazz Orchestra and the full Peabody Concert Orchestra under the direction of Hajime Teri Murai.
Current projects include Tim Berne’s bloodcount, together with saxophonists Tim Berne and Chris Speed, and drummer Jim Black, which has reunited after a ten-year hiatus, and 3081, a Baltimore based quartet featuring trumpeter Dave Ballou, saxophone and clarinetist, John Dierker, and percussionist Will Redman, and a new quartet with Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn, and Gerald Cleaver on drums.
Ars Nova Workshop is a Philadelphia nonprofit jazz and experimental music presenting organization. As a facilitator between artists and their audiences, Ars Nova Workshop works to inform, inspire and challenge listeners in order to elevate the role of jazz, improvisation and experimental music in contemporary culture.