A listener could make it their life's work to absorb and appreciate the music the music of Cecil Taylor
. One could possibly approach it as a scholar and musician through notation and transcriptionnot the recommended approach. Such a task would be similar to the process of systematizing a DNA sequence. Taylor's music, and pardon this analogy, might be best grasped as one might attend to the oxymoronic genre noise music.
If you are still reading, allow an explanation. In a review of Taylor's 1962 recording Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come
(Arista, Freedom, 1975) a live trio recording made between the two reissues heard here Mixed
(Impulse!,1961) and Unit Structures
(Blue Note, 1966), Richard Cool and Brian Morton of the Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings
fame said, "Taylor is still working his way out of the jazz tradition...the playing has an irresistible momentum that creates its own kind of rocking swing, the pulse indefinable but palpable." Taylor, like every other jazz innovator from Louis Armstrong
to Charlie Parker
did not enter the scene fully formed. His first recordings Jazz Advance
(Blue Note, 1956) and Love For Sale
(United Artists, 1959) found him covering Thelonious Monk
, Duke Ellington
, and Cole Porter
. This "working his way out of the jazz tradition" was his process of assimilation and evolution.
The release entitled Mixed
was originally released under The Gil Evans
Orchestra moniker titled Into The Hot
(Impulse!, 1962). Evans who together with Miles Davis
created Miles Ahead
(Columbia, 1957) and Sketches Of Spain
(Columbia, 1960) was certainly a more recognizable name. The introduction of Cecil's revolution was (still is) a delicate matter. The three tracks included in Evans' release introduced many listeners to Taylor and the revolutionary artists Jimmy Lyons
, Archie Shepp
, Roswell Rudd
, Henry Grimes
, and Sunny Murray
. The music from Mixed
is, for lack of a better term, swingin.' Lyons and Shepp's saxophones address the growing storm whipped up by Ornette Coleman
while the pulse of the music threatens to tear itself away from the bebop revolution. Revisiting this skillfully remastered music sixty years on might not give us that original 'shock of the new' experience, but it remains quite surprising. Taylor orchestrates not unlike Charles Mingus
as a means to proffer his growing confidence in his keyboard language.
Six years after Mixed
, Taylor recorded Unit Structures
with two bassists, Henry Grimes and Alan Silva
, Makanda Ken McIntyre
replaced Archie Shepp, and Eddie Gale
replaced Roswell Rudd. At this junction, the Cecil Taylor revolution had begun. His music is impossible to inspect under a microscope; there are too many moving pieces and parts. Reading Taylor's own liner notes is akin trying to wade through James Joyce's Ulysses
. That said, Unit Structures
is not impenetrable, it's just that it is (like Japanoise) better experienced than deciphered.
Pots; Bulbs; Mixed; Steps; Enter, Evening (Soft Line Structure); Unit/Structure / As Of A Now / Section; Tales (8 Whisps).
Ken McIntyre: bass clarinet, oboe. Roswell Rudd: trombone (track 3 only); Ted Curson: trumpet (track 3 only).