All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Cecil Taylor: FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY!

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
83 years old and approaching ninety releases as a leader, pianist Cecil Taylor's place in the history of jazz may already rest assured, but he's more cited than seen these days. He may not come up as a primary influence as often as usual suspects Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner or Herbie Hancock, but in the free jazz realm there are few as distinctive or influential—and who've avoided the lure of compromise. Paul Bley comes close, but while the Canadian pianist hasn't marched to anyone's drummer but his own, he's been more out there in the world, collaboratively speaking, versus the more absolute and resolute Taylor, who rarely works with anyone beyond the purview of his own groups. And though equally unencumbered by preconception—at least in most circumstances—Bley has always played the austere aesthete to the seemingly more flamboyant and aggressive Taylor.

For those who've dismissed Taylor as an important but unapproachable player, 1980's FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY!—part of Promising Music's ongoing remaster series of Germany's MPS catalog—might just change some minds. Spontaneity may be the order of the day—culminating Taylor's near-decade long exploration of solo piano—and there's plenty of his signature virtuosic expressionism, but what FLY! also demonstrates in the clearest possible fashion, is Taylor's broad purview, and complete and utter sense of purpose.

Taylor's original (and brief) liner notes tell all: "If a man plays for a certain amount of time...eventually a kind of order asserts itself. There is no music without order—if that music comes from a man's innards...it is a question of recognizing ideas and expressions of order." There's plenty of order to be found, as Taylor pulls motifs from the ether and works them—stopping, starting, twisting, turning and stretching—with unmistakable animus. Free this may be, but it's still the consequence of split-second decision-making that renders these eight improvisations as far more than the meandering randomness to which free jazz naysayers so often ascribe. There are unmistakable roots in the jazz tradition, with encyclopedic trace elements of everything from stride to bop, but the references are so fleeting that it's easy to miss them. There are changes, too—as in "T (Beautiful Young'n)"—though how and when they manifest themselves is never anything but unpredictable.

There are hints of European classicism, too, as German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach writes in notes written specially for this edition, even as Taylor relentlessly turns on a dime, moving from one thought to the next with unerring logic and unmistakable inevitability. And there are brief glimpses of real beauty, too, despite often being bookended by more oblique ideation.

Taylor's technical acumen is truly the subsummation of a life already past midpoint when he entered MPS Studio in Villingen, Germany in September, 1980. Remastered with the same tender care as the rest of its series, Promising Music's reissue of FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! brings an album that has been all-too-often overlooked back into circulation, and is a welcome entry point into the music of an artist for whom "compromise" and "pander" are the two dirtiest words of all.

Track Listing: T (Beautiful Young'n); Astar; Ensaslayi; I (Sister Young'n); Corn in Sun + T (Moon); The Stele Stolen and Broken is Reclaimed; N + R (Love is Friends); Rocks Sub Amba.

Personnel: Cecil Taylor: piano.

Title: FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! FLY! | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Promising Music/MPS

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Murals CD/LP/Track Review
Murals
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Cosmic Language CD/LP/Track Review
Cosmic Language
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley CD/LP/Track Review
Jubilation! Celebrating Cannonball Adderley
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Earth CD/LP/Track Review
Earth
by Chris May
Published: May 20, 2018
Read Vegir CD/LP/Track Review
Vegir
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 19, 2018
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Morphogenesis" CD/LP/Track Review Morphogenesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 13, 2017
Read "Incidentals" CD/LP/Track Review Incidentals
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Flux Reflux" CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "The Great Nostalgist" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Nostalgist
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 29, 2017
Read "Heliosonic Toneways Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Heliosonic Toneways Vol. 1
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 14, 2018