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Cecil Taylor Unit: One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye

Rex  Butters By

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Hat Hut has done the world a favor and restored Cecil Taylor's epic 1978 Stuttgart concert recording, One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye, to the active list. Originally released in the unwieldy three-record set format on vinyl, now spread over a less disjointed two-CD collection, this leonine work anticipates the increasingly popular juxtaposition of composed/cued/improvised elements artfully juggled to the delight of listener and musician alike.

This Unit's lineup truly represents a dream team: Jimmy Lyons on alto sax, Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums, Sirone on bass, Ralph Malik on trumpet, and Ramsey Ameen on violin. Taylor showcases his crew with small group preludes and the developing door-blowing ensemble workouts.

Lyons and Malik open the duet segment with a concise melodic conversation that walks and flies. Ameen and Sirone play their string duet streaking smears and blurs, reflecting textures, and in Sirone's case, knuckle-busting pizzicato. Solo, Jackson sets many lines in motion, yet with surprising restraint. He tells many stories.

The first track with the Unit has the musicians circling Taylor's tight clusters. Quickly the trio emerges, with Taylor firing quicksilver phrases over Jackson's brush fire. Taylor cashes in a number of wild ideas, but whatever speed he careens through imagination, Jackson throws his own titanic technique and endurance into it to create sustained fireworks. Sirone's grounded musings seem sober by comparison, until he gets his chance to rumble with the boss in duet for the outro.

A dazzling solo piano interlude follows and Jackson eases in, resuming their dizzying dialogue. Sirone drones arco while Jackson and Taylor wage epic music. Ameen's swarming violin answers Sirone resulting in a four-way hurricane. A straight-ahead funky beat from Jackson slows it down, the strings join in drone and Taylor and Jackson go at it again. Sirone and Taylor jostle each other before Jackson rejoins to further intensify the performance.

After sitting out for more than an hour, the horns return for a spacious, sweeping ensemble piece. Malik steps up for some brass heat, the rhythm section sharp cornered and angular. Lyons takes a solid blow time, the tumultuous trio behind him, with Ameen searing the violin. The last section opens with Taylor transitioning from gentle to volcanic in minutes, then ends in an extended interplay with Ameen.

Originally released the same year as Saturday Night Fever, this collection captures giants performing in an inspirational blaze.


Track Listing: One Too Many Salty Swift And Not Goodbye

Personnel: Cecil Taylor, piano; Jimmy Lyons, alto sax; Ronald Shannon Jackson, drums; Sirone, bass; Ralph Malik, trumpet; Ramsey Ameen, drums.

Title: One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

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