Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art presents Octopus

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Photo courtesy of Kris Davis and Craig Taborn

Known collectively as the “Octopus” and recognized as two of the most important improvising pianists in the world today, Kris Davis and Craig Taborn present an array of original compositions inspired by eight sculptures from the Modern collection. Additionally, Davis and Taborn will perform duet piano arrangements of two pieces by jazz legend and Fort Worth native son, Ronald Shannon Jackson.

The duo are aptly named “Octopus”, an ocean creature with a brain and eight independent neuron-carrying limbs, as they become amazing and powerful musical intelligence in performance. For the Modern concert, Taborn and Davis have composed two new pieces, each distilled from a couple of sculptures. Viewing these pairings as in dialogue with each other, the new compositions emerge from these conversations and play into the duality of Octopus, two people, two pianos and two sets of ideas somehow merging all together. while remaining distinct.

Taborn’s new works combine Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1967, with Martin Puryear’s Ladder for Booker T. Washington, 1996, and Lynda Benglis’s For Carl Andre, 1970, with Carl Andre’s Slit, 1981. Davis’ new pieces combine Untitled by Teresa Margolles, 2010, with Cornelia Parker’s Rorschach (Endless Column 1), 2005, and Roxy Paine’s Conjoined, 2007, with Teresita Fernández’s Epic 2, 2009.

Taborn and Davis will end the evening with covers of “Apache Love Cry” (1980) and “Alice in the Congo” (1982) by Ronald Shannon Jackson. A pioneer of avant-garde jazz and free funk, and best known as a top jazz drummer and frontman and songwriter of the groundbreaking band Decoding Society, Jackson has also performed and recorded with Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler and Bill Frisell during his long career.


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Reggie S. Williams