Octopus: Kris Davis and Craig Taborn

  • February 28, 2022 7:30 PM

Join us for OCTOPUS, Kris Davis and Craig Taborn, Improvising Pianists in concert in the Modern's auditorium.

Tickets $35/$30 for Modern Members 

Available online beginning January 24, https://www.prekindle.com/event/53921-octopus-fort-worth

Watch a TEASER here!

Collectively known as “Octopus” and recognized as two of the most significant improvising pianists in the world today, Kris Davis and Craig Taborn present an exciting array of original compositions inspired by eight sculptures in the Modern’s collection. In addition, Davis and Taborn will perform piano-duet arrangements of two pieces by the jazz legend and Fort Worth native son, Ronald Shannon Jackson.

The duo is appropriately named “Octopus”, an oceangoing creature with one brain and eight independent neuron-bearing limbs, because they become one stunning and powerful musical intelligence in performance. For the Modern’s concert, both Taborn and Davis have composed two new pieces, each distilled from a pairing of sculptures. Viewing these pairings as in dialogue with one another, the new compositions emerge from those conversations and play into the duality of “Octopus” -- two people, two pianos, and two idea sets somehow merging yet remaining distinct.

Taborn's new works pair 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’s new pieces pair Teresa Margolles’s Untitled, 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 round out the evening with covers of Ronald Shannon Jackson's "Apache Love Cry” (1980) and “Alice in the Congo” (1982). A pioneer of avant-garde jazz and free funk, and best known as a jazz drummer of the first rank and leader of and composer for the ground-breaking band Decoding Society, Jackson also played and recorded with Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, and Bill Frisell over the course of his long career. 

The evening’s performance will be a recorded for a potential future album release.  


Kris Davis

Pianist-composer Kris Davis was named 2017 Rising Star Pianist/2018 Rising Star Artist in Downbeat magazine and dubbed one of music’s top up-and-comers in a 2012 New York Times article titled “New Pilots at the Keyboard,” with the newspaper saying: “One method for deciding where to hear jazz on a given night has been to track down the pianist Kris Davis.” To date, Davis has released twelve recordings as leader. Her 2016 release, Duopoly, made the New York TimesPop MattersNPRLA Times, and Jazz Times best albums of 2016. Davis works as a collaborator and side person with artists such as John Zorn, Terri Lyne Carrington, Craig Taborn, Tyshawn Sorey, Eric Revis, Michael Formanek, Tony Malaby, Ingrid Laubrock, Julian Lage, Mary Halvorson, and Tom Rainey. Davis received a Doris Duke Impact award in 2015 and multiple commissions to compose new works from The Shifting Foundation, The Jazz Gallery/Jerome Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts. She is the Associate Program Director of Creative Development for the Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice at Berklee College of Music.


Craig Taborn

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Craig Taborn has been performing piano and electronic music in the jazz, improvisational, and creative music scene for more than twenty-five years. He has experience composing for and performing in a wide variety of situations, including jazz, new music, electronic, rock, noise, and avant-garde contexts. Taborn has played and recorded with many luminaries in the fields of jazz, improvised, new music, and electronic music, including Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Lester Bowie, Dave Holland, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Evan Parker, Steve Coleman, David Torn, Chris Potter, William Parker, Vijay Iyer, Kris Davis, Nicole Mitchell, Susie Ibarra, Ikue Mori, Carl Craig, Dave Douglas, Meat Beat Manifesto, Dan Weiss, Chris Lightcap, Gerald Cleaver, and Rudresh Manhathappa. Taborn is currently occupied creating and performing music for a solo piano performance (Avenging Angel), piano trio (Craig Taborn Trio), an electronic project (Junk Magic), the Daylight Ghosts Quartet, a piano/drums/electronics duo with Dave King (Heroic Enthusiasts), a new trio with Tomeka Reid and Ches Smith, and piano duo collaborations with Vijay Iyer (The Transitory Poems), Kris Davis (Octopus), and Cory Smythe. He is also a member of the instrumental electronic art-pop group Golden Valley is Now and performs frequently on solo electronics. His conceptual work 60 x Sixty is now available worldwide, for free at 60xSixty.com. Craig lives in Brooklyn.


Ms. Davis and Mr. Taborn are two pianists with an ear for stark clarity and unflinching abstraction. - Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times

No two pianists have played with the kind of freedom and grace, abandon and emotion as Kris Davis and Craig Taborn on their new album, Octopus - Michael J. Agovino, Village Voice

Both pianists are restless improvisers with enormous arsenals of ideas.- Martin Johnson, The Wall Street Journal

Kris Davis and Craig Taborn deliver the control and sense of purpose of a single intelligence.- The Financial Times