Cecil Taylor: Garden 1st Set

Mark Corroto By

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I dare you to put a Cecil Taylor record on the turntable (or press play on that download) and leave the room. You can't. His energy, mojo, or maybe voodoo is so strong, that your escape is impossible. It's as simple as that.

Taylor is a force of nature. An irrepressible pianist, poet, philosopher jazzman. His performances are legendary, and this 1981 concert in Basel Switzerland is a gem. First released by Hat Hut Records (now hatOLOGY) in a 2LP set, it is re-mastered and thankfully, the 1st set reissued here.

He opens "Ellell" with his chant and spoken poetry that morphs into percussion then piano. The piano searches between passages like an athlete stretching before a contest. Twist, turn, and reach for some blues phrases. He works the length of the keyboard, conjuring spirits and setting-off his musical turbines. As the lengthy piece (nearly 27 minutes) develops, forms take shape, but not in a traditional sense. His music is a seance and Taylor is a mystical griot contacting the spirits of New Orleans, Africa, Asia, and outer space.

His performance here is as musical as it is athletic. The piano runs he produces on "Garden I" are dervishly ecstatic, but never undisciplined. Like a Jackson Pollock painting, yes it is chaotic, tangled and a bit virulent, but is never not under the pianist's governance. Taylor commands this performance and certainly his audience with an assured presence that is palpable. By the final piece of the set "Stepping On Stars," he breathes a blues drenched (dare we call it a ballad?) cascade of notes that feign exhaustion.

Track Listing: Elell; Garden I; Stepping On Stars.

Personnel: Cecil Taylor: Bösendorfer piano.

Title: Garden 1st Set | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

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