Cecil Taylor has posed a challenge for many jazz listeners. He's never been an easy "listen". He creates his own internal "sense of swing" and not everyone hears it. And, where's the melody? But one thing that cannot be disputed is the sheer power of his music. I suspect that there are few musicians who could benefit more from being experienced live than Cecil Taylor.
My buddy Jim once described the prospect of playing with Derek Bailey as either "you doing it with him" or having "him doing it to you". No comprimise. I'd say the same applies to Cecil Taylor. In his book, Four Lives in the Bebop Business, A.B. Spellman describes Taylor's commitment to his music to the point that he had to resort to driving a taxi because he could not get much work in the sixties.
I first came to Cecil Taylor, as many do, through his Blue Note recordings, in particular, Conquistador and Unit Structures.
I really didn't get hooked until I started listening to his Candid recordings, gloriously compiled and released from Mosaic Records. That box set is one of my prized possessions to this day. Then I bravely set out for freer ground and began to listen to Air Above Mountains and then the floodgates opened...
In this post I've included two concerts: a quintet performance that is here and a solo show that is here. The Cecil Taylor Ensemble was recorded in Hamburg on October 16, 1991. It is made up of Cecil Taylor - piano; Wolfgang Fuchs - sproano sax, bassclarinet; Harri Sjostrom - soprano sax; Sirone - bass; and Tony Oxley - drums. The playlist is as follows:
1. Load Berring 15:10
2. Carnations are Real 45:31
3. Encore 8:16
The solo performance was recorded in Saint Denis, France on March 6, 2002 during the Festival Banieues Bleues. Cecil Taylor (piano, voice) plays one extended unknown piece.