Well informed readers of this website will know that any piano-bass-drums trio involving Cecil Taylor is not going to consist of "correct" virtuosity applied to the maximum in pursuit of sophisticated cocktail lounge music. It doesn't happen here, but what does is a moment caught in time, representing three empathetic individuals in pursuit of the music in its deepest and yet most abstract form.
Duos and solos are integral parts of the overall performance as opposed to opportunities for self-indulgence, and the underlying group expression is in itself purged of excess. Truly the trio thinks as one, making the most of the moment even while it appears to have a collective eye on the overarching dynamic of the music. Thus the interplay between piano and bass on "Emerging From The Cosmic Exterial" is, at times, the product of relentless force contained, even while the logical of the piece is dictated entirely by the moment and the quicksilver responsiveness of the players. All of that remains in place when it becomes "Feeling," where it's as if Taylor feels overly deferential towards William Parker and the force of nature that is his bass. The understanding between the two men borders on the telepathic, and to the extent that it's not only ideas themselves which are exploited but also fragments of ideas fleshed out, elaborated upon and revised such that the moment becomes the most precious thing possible to devise.
When percussionist Masashi Harada eventually makes his presence known he falls right in with the empathy, as if waiting for exactly the right moment is of paramount importance. So poised is the music at this point that it's extraordinary how the group manages to maintain it and not teeter over into the sound and fury of empty rhetoric. Taylor is arguably at his most singularly lyrical at this point, showing how difficult it is to maintain a singular approach to any instrument over the course of approximately the half a century he's been in the music.
On the closing "Willing," the music is reined in, and it's mostly dark hues that are summoned up. The slightly ominous feel of some of Taylor's past is arguably most evident here, although again the vertiginous feel is avoided through a kind of collective application. The dynamics quota is upped in no small part by Harada, who paradoxically plays a role at the heart of the music, even while to some ears he might appear detached from it.
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Track Listing: Astral Fluid on the Earth: Looking Into the Universe; Emerging from the Cosmic Exterial; Soul Activities: Feeling; Willing.
Personnel: Cecil Taylor: piano; William Parker: bass; Masashi Harada: percussion.
Title: CT: The Dance Project
| Year Released: 2009
| Record Label: FMP Records