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An incredible solo concert from legendary New York pianist Cecil Taylor in October, 1968 at the Sala Kongresowa (Congress Hall, Palace of Culture and Science) in Warsaw during the Jazz Jamboree, recorded by Polski Radio and remastered in 2021, an excellent example of the nimble mind and quick technical skills of Taylor's personal take on improvisation; stunning!
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Label: Listen! Foundation (Fundacja Sluchaj!)
Catalog ID: 10 | 2022
Squidco Product Code: 32099
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at Jazz Jamboree, Warsaw Philharmonic Hall, in Warsaw, Poland on October 18, 1968 by Polskie Radio. Mastered April 30, 2021 by Grzegorz Piwkowski (Hi-End Audio, Warsaw)
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• Show Bio for Cecil Taylor
"Cecil Percival Taylor (March 25, 1929 – April 5, 2018) was an American pianist and poet. Classically trained, Taylor is generally acknowledged as having been one of the pioneers of free jazz. His music is characterized by an extremely energetic, physical approach, producing complex improvised sounds, frequently involving tone clusters and intricate polyrhythms. His piano technique has been likened to percussion, for example described as "eighty-eight tuned drums" (referring to the number of keys on a standard piano). He has also been described as "like Art Tatum with contemporary-classical leanings".
aylor was raised in the Corona, Queens neighborhood of New York City. As an only child to a middle-class family, Taylor's mother encouraged him to play music at an early age. He began playing piano at age six and went on to study at the New York College of Music and New England Conservatory. At the New England Conservatory, Taylor majored in composition and arranging. During his time there, he also became familiar with contemporary European art music. Bartok and Stockhausen notably influenced his music.
In 1955, Taylor moved from Boston to New York City. He formed a quartet with soprano saxophonist, Steve Lacy, the bassist Buell Neidlinger, and drummer Dennis Charles.
Taylor's first recording, Jazz Advance, featured Lacy and was released in 1956. It is described by Cook and Morton in the Penguin Guide to Jazz: "While there are still many nods to conventional post-bop form in this set, it already points to the freedoms in which the pianist would later immerse himself." Taylor's Quartet featuring Lacy also appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival which went on to be made into the album At Newport. He collaborated with saxophonist John Coltrane in 1958 (Stereo Drive, currently available as Coltrane Time).
1950s and 1960s
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Taylor's music grew more complex and moved away from existing jazz styles. Gigs were often hard to come by, and club owners found Taylor's approach to performance (long pieces) unhelpful in conducting business. His 1959 LP Looking Ahead!, showcased his innovation as a creator in comparison to the jazz mainstream. Unlike others at the time, Taylor utilized virtuosic techniques and made swift stylistic shifts from phrase to phrase. These qualities, among others, still remain notable distinctions of Taylor's music today.
Landmark recordings, like Unit Structures (1966), also appeared. With 'the Unit', musicians developed often volcanic new forms of conversational interplay. In the early 1960s, an uncredited Albert Ayler worked for a time with Taylor, jamming and appearing on at least one recording, Four, unreleased until 2004.
By 1961, Taylor was working regularly with alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, one of his most important and consistent collaborators. Taylor, Lyons and drummer Sunny Murray (and later Andrew Cyrille) formed the core personnel of The Unit, Taylor's primary group effort until Lyons's premature death in 1986. Lyons's playing, strongly influenced by jazz icon Charlie Parker, retained a strong blues sensibility and helped keep Taylor's increasingly avant garde music tethered to the jazz tradition.
Taylor began to perform solo concerts in the second half of the sixties. The first known recorded solo performance (by Dutch radio) was 'Carmen With Rings' (59 min.) in De Doelen concert hall in Rotterdam on July 1, 1967. Two days before Taylor had played the same composition in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Many of the later concerts were released on album and include Indent (1973), side one of Spring of Two Blue-J's (1973), Silent Tongues (1974), Garden (1982), For Olim (1987), Erzulie Maketh Scent (1989) and The Tree of Life (1998). He began to garner critical, if not popular, acclaim, playing for Jimmy Carter on the White House Lawn, lecturing as an in-residence artist at universities, and eventually being awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973 and then a MacArthur Fellowship in 1991.
1990s and the Feel Trio
Following Lyons's death in 1986 Taylor formed the Feel Trio in the early 1990s with William Parker (bass) and Tony Oxley (drums); the group can be heard on Celebrated Blazons, Looking (Berlin Version) The Feel Trio and the 10-CD set 2 T's for a Lovely T. Compared to his prior small groups with Jimmy Lyons, the Feel Trio had a more abstract approach, tethered less to jazz tradition and more aligned with the ethos of European free improvisation. He also performed with larger ensembles and big-band projects. His extended residence in Berlin in 1988 was extensively documented by the German label FMP, resulting in a massive boxed set of performances in duet and trio with a who's who of European free improvisors, including Oxley, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, Tristan Honsinger, Louis Moholo, Paul Lovens, and others. Most of his latter day recordings have been put out on European labels, with the exception of Momentum Space (a meeting with Dewey Redman and Elvin Jones) on Verve/Gitanes. The classical label Bridge released his 1998 Library of Congress performance Algonquin, a duet with violinist Mat Maneri. Taylor continued to perform for capacity audiences around the world with live concerts, usually played on his favored instrument, a Bösendorfer piano that features nine extra lower-register keys. A documentary entitled All the Notes, was released on DVD in 2006 by director Chris Felver. Taylor was also featured in an earlier documentary film Imagine the Sound (1981), in which he discusses and performs his music, poetry and dance.
At Moers Festival 2008
Taylor recorded sparingly in the 2000s, but continued to perform with his own ensembles (the Cecil Taylor Ensemble and the Cecil Taylor Big Band) as well as with other musicians such as Joe Locke, Max Roach, and the poet Amiri Baraka. In 2004, the Cecil Taylor Big Band at the Iridium 2005 was nominated a best performance of 2004 by All About Jazz, and the same in 2009 for the Cecil Taylor Trio at the Highline Ballroom in 2009. The trio consisted of Taylor, Albey Balgochian, and Jackson Krall. At time of Taylor's death in 2018A an autobiography, further concerts, and other projects were in the works. In 2010, Triple Point Records released a deluxe limited edition double LP titled Ailanthus/Altissima: Bilateral Dimensions of Two Root Songs, a set of duos with long-time collaborator Tony Oxley that was recorded live at the Village Vanguard in New York City.
In 2013, he was awarded the Kyoto Prize for Music. In 2014, his career and 85th birthday were honored at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia with the tribute concert event "Celebrating Cecil". In 2016 he received a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art entitled Open Plan: Cecil Taylor.
Taylor, along with dancer Min Tanaka was the subject of Amiel Courtin-Wilson's 2016 documentary film "The Silent Eye".
Ballet and dance
In addition to piano, Taylor was always interested in ballet and dance. His mother, who died while he was still young, was a dancer and also played the piano and violin. Taylor once said: "I try to imitate on the piano the leaps in space a dancer makes." He collaborated with dancer Dianne McIntyre in the late 70s and early 80s. In 1979 he also composed and played the music for a twelve-minute ballet "Tetra Stomp: Eatin' Rain in Space", featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov and Heather Watts.
Taylor was a poet, citing Robert Duncan, Charles Olson and Amiri Baraka as major influences. He often integrated his poems into his musical performances, and they frequently appear in the liner notes of his albums. The CD Chinampas, released by Leo Records in 1987, is a recording of Taylor reciting several of his poems, accompanying himself on percussion.
Influence and musical style
According to Steven Block, free jazz originated with the performances of Cecil Taylor at the Five Spot Cafe in 1957 and Ornette Coleman in 1959. In 1964, Taylor co-founded the Jazz Composers Guild to enhance the working possibilities of avant-garde jazz musicians.
Taylor's style and methods have been described as 'constructivist'. Despite Scott Yanow's warning regarding Taylor's "forbidding music":
Suffice it to say that Cecil Taylor's music is not for everyone
he goes on to praise Taylor's "remarkable technique and endurance," and his "advanced", "radical", "original", and uncompromising "musical vision."
This vision is one of Taylor's greatest influences upon others:
Playing with Taylor I began to be liberated from thinking about chords. I'd been imitating John Coltrane unsuccessfully and because of that I was really chord conscious.
— Archie Shepp, quoted in LeRoi Jones, album liner notes for Four for Trane (Impulse A-71, 1964).
In 1982, jazz critic Stanley Crouch outed Taylor as being gay, prompting an angry response. However, Taylor never denied it. In 1991, Taylor told a New York Times reporter "[s]omeone once asked me if I was gay. I said, 'Do you think a three-letter word defines the complexity of my humanity?' I avoid the trap of easy definition."
Taylor moved to Fort Greene, Brooklyn in 1983.
Taylor died on April 5. 2018 at tbe age of 89."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Taylor)
Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.
^ Hide Bio for Cecil Taylor
1. Respiration 42:55
sample the album:
"Cecil Taylor Warsaw 1968: Street Maps and Barricades
... a velocity, a complexity and an elegance borne of great pressure, light and focus, early childhood travelling in time to Duke's "Daybreak Express", then the light rapid transit of Teddy Wilson or Tatum, in teens introduced to Charlie Parker and Bartok's cadenzas, perhaps the flocking notes of Messiaen too ...
... the ecstasy of the moment of revolt: however long the deliberations, however difficult the ensuing struggle, the moment of revolt is ecstatic, and in the great revolutionary art, that moment is sustained beyond expectation, beyond all reason, time transformed into bliss; in his solo music, a rite both sacred and anarchic, Cecil Taylor found not just that moment but made it an intervention, an act of complete attention, rhythms massing within time itself (and themselves), yet finding that ground in an ecstatic period of time outside of time--eternity a unit of time bounded by no time...clocks inside time, clocks outside time, and alarm clocks, too...that moment of revolt stretched to time itself...
... evolving in an American insistence on growing freedom ... from Detroit 1943 to the white riots of 1954, the burning cities of 1967 ... then resonating globally ... 1968, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, America ... a calendar of cities, Warsaw March, Prague Spring, Paris May, Chicago August, smoke bombs, napalm, machine gun fire, troops everywhere assaulting ceremonies of freedom ... concentration camps in parks and streets, a global stretch ... all making perfect sense of the European solo concerts ... no spaces between notes, the former note the articulation of the present note the articulation of the next ... a new rate of attentiveness to time and events simultaneous ... the pan-cultural protest ...
... this strange and revolutionary moment is at once collective and individual, a liberation of collective possibility and individual genius...black and white keys exploding like every black word of newsprint and every white interval between, oceanic wave of messages a particulate ecstasy...
... within just a few months or years the primary mechanics of the great solo discourses of free improvisation would arise ... Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey ... suggesting Taylor's wizardry of breadth and depth and velocity, first achieved on the traditional solo voice of the western tradition from Bach to "Bud on Bach" (adding the analogous elegance of a compound-complex Coltrane cadenza), requiring a corresponding methodological response and universe from every instrument ... as if Taylor in these hours of instants is improvising the world...the authentic individual as collective..."
-Stuart Broomer, April 2022 " Stuart Broomer, April 2022
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