Cecil Taylor's involvement in the dance world might be little known to most fans of the prominent pianist. Yet Taylor honed some of his talents by accompanying ballet rehearsals at a young age, and has continued the practice through his work with such dance luminaries as Dianne McIntyre and Mikhail Baryshnikov. With renowned bassist William Parker and Japanese percussionist Masashi Haradaboth of whom share Taylor's multidisciplinary approachthe unit creates careful and astute improvisational accompaniment for four dancers on CT: The Dance Project.
The disc contains two distinguished works, each of which is broken into two parts. The first work, "Astral Fluid on the Earth," opens with the sparse explorations of "Looking Into the Universe." Taylor's piano rumbles its opening chords before drifting into more reactive territory where each musical gesture is given its proper due before the next. When Taylor's opening dissipates, Parker's bass defines the space further as Harada's percussion skitters and swerves about, all the while the musicians interspersing their playing with dramatically stated vocal gestures. "Emerging from the Cosmic Exterial" closes the first section with an elastic piano and bass duet that fills its brief four minutes with enough emotive resonance as many works twice its length.
Taylor's last notes glide into silence before the second section, "Soul Activities," opens with further forays by Taylor, whose always distinct piano playing simultaneously draws from the vaults of Duke Ellington and Arnold Schoenberg. Parker soon joins on bass, bowing into the mix before creating a light pulse over which Taylor can texturally elaborate. When Harada comes in, his sense of restraint reveals him to be the unselfish and musical percussionist he is. Allowing the pulse to be carried more clearly by Parker, Harada shapes the mood with his sound choices more than with his groove.
Perhaps it is their role as accompanists in this scenario, but the whole of the album is marked by a distinct sense of restraint, highlighting interaction and careful mood setting rather than dynamic buildups and dramatic delivery. The result, as evidenced by the closing "Willing," is an angular work whose flow is marked as much by the spaces between the musicians and their individual sound worlds as by the tautness of the unit's delivery. It is a compelling and creative work that bubbles with spontaneity as the musicians sonically move among themselves and their dancing counterparts.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.