Innovative pianist Cecil Taylor, who passed away on April 5th 2018, was a transformative force in the world of improvisational music. His signature percussive pianism was imbued with dynamic poetry and he, together with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, is credited with starting the free jazz movement. Taylor has also been a source of inspiration for fellow New Yorker, guitarist Dom Minasi. Minasi who is equally idiosyncratic, and similarly pushes artistic boundaries, pays tribute to Taylor on the emotive and vibrant Remembering Cecil.
The provocative release consists of four spontaneous, unaccompanied pieces simply named "Improv," one through four. Minasi opens the disc with dissonant and muscular chords that form an energetic and fiery solo. As it progresses Minasi's crisp lines and crystalline notes echo against each other, coalescing into a quiet and pensive musing.
The second track is equally poignant, and stands out because of its bluesy touches and soulful swagger. Minasi's extemporization evolves in complexity without losing its passionate core. The cerebral performance elegantly simmers within the haunting and expectant ambience. The contemplative and wistful third "Improv" is more introspective than the previous two. As it evolves, an angry edge glows darkly within it yet the conclusion is solemn and serene.
The final tune on the record has a cinematic and crepuscular atmosphere with richly-textured phrases and eloquent lyricism. MInasi, as always, demonstrates incredible agility as he coaxes contrasting and complementary sounds out of his strings, moving from the reserved and melancholic to the restlessly animated.
This brilliantly original album is not a standard homage that often reinterprets the dedicatee's works. Steeped in reminiscence and sorrow Remembering Cecil is part elegy for and part celebration of Taylor and his oeuvre. This unique and stimulating music reflects simultaneously Taylor's spirit and Minasi's distinctiveness. It also makes a compelling listening experience
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