No other artist, except maybe Miles Davis, created the sort of event/happening that surrounded a Cecil Taylor performance. As Taylor's career advanced from the 1960s on, his presentation became an almost pure expression, one not limited by the terms 'jazz,' 'poetry,' and 'dance.'
Of the many chapters his art held, for many fans it is Taylor's travels to Europe that define his career. Much of it is documented in the coveted In Berlin '88 (FMP, 1989) eleven CD boxset. But subsequent travels to the continent add to the Taylor mystique. This unearthed document from Finnish Radio delivers a one off performance from a quintet that includes Finnish saxophonist Harri Sjolstrom, German drummer Paul Lovens, American cellist Tristan Honsinger, and Finnish bassist and composer Teppo Hauta-Aho.
The seventy-five minute set was recorded at the Tampere Jazz Happening on October 30, 1998, and its genesis was at the suggestion of Sjöström. The saxophonist can be heard on several recordings with Taylor over the following decade, and since he has continued to spread the flame ignited from this performance.
The Tampere concert begins with vocalizations from Taylor and Honsinger before the quintet detonates into some energetic improvisations. The sound never devolves into the chaos of din as pieces and parts flow to the surface and connect. After the exuberance of the openingas well as the body of this concert, the final fifteen minutes evolve into the spoils. Poetry and operatic phrasings emerge, not from exhaustion but resolution. While this is indeed a Cecil Taylor recording, it was created not from intensive rehearsals and practice, nor was it preplanned. The quintet lifts the bandstand with all hands on deck.