Cecil Taylor Algonquin
Cecil Taylor started out with a bracingly original sound that had a tenuous but easily discernible connection to recognizable forms and gradually over the decades moved into total abstraction. Taylor is perhaps at the peak of his technique and his music can be both as predictable, and its opposite, as ever. On the newly released Algonquin, a set of duos with violist Mat Maneri, Taylor delivers more of his familiar rapid-fire style and some gentler surprises.
Maneri gets the first sound on this live recording, but it's the master who has the first word spoken word. Taylor enters the music gradually, a method he has sometimes employed during the past two decades. When he starts to play, he eases into it gently, then suddenly launches into a pretty, classical-sounding interlude. Maneri doesn't seem to know what to do with this and it's over in a twinkle.
Algonquin showcases Taylor's full range of artistry and shows Maneri is ready for the big leagues, even if you can still hear him growing on this effort.
Mat Maneri's impressively large discography gets another line with Jam, a trio of Maneri, reedist Assif Tsahar and the excellent drummer Jim Black. Culled from live sessions at Tonic, this is a fair document of the current state of downtown free improv art. The three settle in for a series of conversations in sound, each deploying a fairly extensive vocabulary. It's creative noisemaking at a high level, so caveat emptor: no grooves or unison melodies in earshot here.
Tracks: Algonquin, Pt. 1 (30:36); Pt. 2 (4:12); Pt. 3 (6:34); Pt. 4 (13:21).
Personnel: Cecil Taylor: piano; Mat Maneri: violin.
Tracks: Jam, Pt. 1 (6:39); Pt. 2 (4:56); Pt. 3 (7:02); Pt. 4 (6:06); Pt. 5 (4:24); Pt. 6 (5:41); Pt. 7 (3:33); Pt. 8 (5:10); Pt. 9 (8:10).
Personnel: Jim Black: Percussion, Drums; Mat Maneri: Violin, Electric Violin; Assif Tsahar: Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax.