Saturday, September 10, 2011

The genius of Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor's Jazz Advance is an essential item in any jazz library.  It is, all on its own, a brilliant piece of work.  In context, it is astonishing.  Recorded in 1956, it makes Miles Davis first great quintet look retrograde by comparison, and Miles was covering ground fast.  Taylor saw far ahead of his time.  

Last night I was listening to Taylor's Conquistador!, recorded a decade later.  Like most of Taylor's recordings, it is pure Avant Garde.  The room was lit by a single lamp and I was tired.  I dropped what I was reading and just listened.  It worked.  I was captivated by every note, though I could not have predicted the next note.  I suppose that was the point.  

Taylor recorded a lot of music, and I have enjoyed only a small portion.  I haven't heard anything that measures up to Jazz Advance, but I have heard a lot that is worth living with.  I have some recommendations.  
  1. Jazz Advance (1956)
  2. Looking Ahead (1958)
  3. The World of Cecil Taylor (1960)
  4. Air (1961)
  5. Jumpin' Punkins (1961)
  6. New York City R&B (1961)
  7. Cell Walk for Celeste (1961)
That gives you the early Taylor.  Most of it is available from eMusic.  I will follow up with some more detail and some later Taylor, well, later.  

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