The Squid's Ear Magazine


Ayler, Albert (incl. Milford Graves, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, Sunny Murray, &c): More Lost Perform (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Remastering previously unavailable and vital performances from three configurations of saxophonist Albert Ayler's bands, including their 1967 Newport Festival concert with Milford Graves, their performance at John Coltrane's 1967 Funeral at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in NYC, and an incredible 1962 concert with Cecil Taylor's group with Jimmy Lyons and Sunny Murray in Copenhagen.
 

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Albert Ayler-alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, vocal

Donald Ayler-trumpet

Michel Samson-violin

Bill Folwell-double bass

Milford Graves-drums

Richard Davis-double bass

Cecil Taylor-piano

Jimmy Lyons-alto saxophone

Sunny Murray-drums


Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.




Sound restoration & mastering by Michael Brändli, Hardstudios AG; Cover photo by Rolf Sara; Liner notes by Brian Olewnick; graphic concept by fuhrer vienna; Associate producer: Christian C. Dalucas; Executive producer: Werner X. Uehlinger. These tracks are receiving the authorized release by permission of the Estate of Albert Ayler, represented by Desiree Ayler-Fellows.

UPC: 752156116028

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1160
Squidco Product Code: 34117

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Tracks 1, 2 and 3 recorded Live at Newport Festival, in Rhode Island, on June 30th, and July 1st, 1967.

Track 4 recorded Live John Coltrane's Funeral, at St. Peter's Lutheran Church, in New York City, in July, 1967.

Track 5 recorded live in Copenhagen, Denmark, on November 16th, 1962.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The almost five year span bookended in this particular Ayler revisitation marks, in a certain sense, the beginning and end points of the most lasting and creative portion of his remarkable, though sadly brief, career.

As documented in Richard Koloda's fine Ayler biography, Holy Ghost, the saxophonist was in Denmark in the fall of 1962 to record what eventually emerged as Something Different!!!!!! with local musicians, but his ulterior motive was a long-standing desire to join Cecil Taylor's group. As the latter was also in town with his bass-less trio that included altoist Jimmy Lyons and drummer Sunny Murray, Ayler sought him out and, largely via the intercession of Murray, was allowed onto the bandstand. Taylor seemed torn between admiration for the saxophonist and concern at being upstaged but offered Ayler provisional time in the band for a month or so up to an appearance on Danish television in November. The video has unfortunately been lost but the lengthy Taylor composition, "Four", survives in audio form. The piece begins with Taylor and Murray, the former clearly entering into what would become his mature stage, presaging much of his work in the next decade plus. When Lyons joins in, his supremely liquid alto slides in and around Taylor's figure--one instantly realizes why Taylor valued him so highly. Ayler enters at about the eight minute mark and the contrast is abrupt and stark, his guttural moans and cries far, far away from Lyons' sound. It's at once blocky and awkward as well as thrilling, throwing up an obstacle of sorts that Taylor must deftly negotiate. His solo lasts about three minutes and one can almost feel Taylor's relief when it stops, allowing him the freer rein he was used to, a sense of looking in the rearview mirror and exclaiming, "Well, that was something!".

The gig with Taylor, sadly, never eventuated but over the next five years, Ayler would record the bulk of his most important, groundbreaking work, earning both approbation and admiration. The latter included the deep appreciation of John Coltrane. The Newport Jazz Festival had, beginning in 1965, grudgingly accepted the notion of the so-called "New Thing" but by 1967, Ayler's quintet was its sole representative. The previous year and a half or so is the most well-documented portion of his career and the three pieces heard here are part and parcel of that period's oeuvre. The most significant change is the inclusion of drummer Milford Graves, replacing Ayler's most recent drummer, Beaver Harris. Graves' exuberant and hyper-imaginative playing serves as both a strong underpinning and a new kind of catalyst for the rest of the band. The ever-fascinating violinist Michael Samson is in fine form, especially heard in his dizzying solo on "Our Prayer", a track that also features a rare and exhilarating example of Ayler's soprano saxophone playing. "Japan", which was performed on the November, 1966 Stockholm date, is brought back here, its theme still sounding naive at best, before moving into "Universal Indians" (which would reemerge on "Love Cry", recorded two months later) whose melody is barely touched upon, resulting in the freest playing of the concert. Brother Donald carries much of the load on "Truth Is Marching In/Omega" and does so quite bracingly.

John Coltrane died less than three weeks after the Newport performance, on July 17. He had requested that both Ayler and Ornette Coleman play at his funeral and ten days later, Ayler led off the proceedings with most of the same band, though without Samson (who left the band after the Newport gig) and replacing Bill Folwell with Richard Davis on bass. Ayler would later make the claim, perhaps apocryphal, that Coltrane - one would imagine in a tongue-in-cheek manner-had posited his own version of "The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost" with himself in the first position, Pharoah Sanders in the second and Ayler occupying the mysterious final incarnation. The performance, a medley that begins with the new composition, "Love Cry", and leads into short renditions of "Truth Is Marching In" and "Our Prayer", is suitably incantatory and ecstatic with one of the band members, presumably Ayler, ululating wildly toward the end. Ayler, deep-throated and impassioned, had rarely evinced a richer, more devotional sound.

A month later, Ayler recorded the first of two sessions that would be released in 1968 as Love Cry, his initial recording for Impulse!, which, while largely remaining in a similar vein, provided the first hints of a move toward more overtly commercial material via shorter track lengths, a vocal number and the controversial harpsichord of Call Cobbs, a seeming nod to the "baroque" pop music then in brief vogue. But the pieces offered herein give a glimpse of both what might have been had he somehow remained in Cecil Taylor's ensembles and further evidence, if such is needed, of the massive creativity he developed on his own and where it might have taken him had he not opted to follow the (potential) dollars and, of course, had he not met such a tragic, early end."-Brian Olewnick, June 2023


Sound restoration & mastering by Michael Brändli, Hardstudios AG; Cover photo by Rolf Sara; Liner notes by Brian Olewnick; graphic concept by fuhrer vienna; Associate producer: Christian C. Dalucas; Executive producer: Werner X. Uehlinger. These tracks are receiving the authorized release by permission of the Estate of Albert Ayler, represented by Desiree Ayler-Fellows.

Artist Biographies

"Albert Ayler (born July 13, 1936 - November 25, 1970) was an American avant-garde jazz saxophonist, singer and composer.

After early experience playing R&B and bebop, Ayler began recording music during the free jazz era of the 1960s. However, some critics argue that while Ayler's style is undeniably original and unorthodox, it does not adhere to the generally accepted critical understanding of free jazz. In fact, Ayler's style is difficult to categorize in any way, and it evoked incredibly strong and disparate reactions from critics and fans alike. His innovations have inspired subsequent jazz musicians.

His trio and quartet records of 1964, such as Spiritual Unity and The Hilversum Session, show him advancing the improvisational notions of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman into abstract realms where whole timbre, and not just mainly harmony with melody, is the music's backbone. His ecstatic music of 1965 and 1966, such as "Spirits Rejoice" and "Truth Is Marching In", has been compared by critics to the sound of a brass band, and involved simple, march-like themes which alternated with wild group improvisations and were regarded as retrieving jazz's pre-Louis Armstrong roots.

Early life and career

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Ayler was first taught alto saxophone by his father Edward, who was a semiprofessional saxophonist and violinist. Edward and Albert played alto saxophone duets in church and often listened to jazz records together, including swing era jazz and then-new bop albums. Ayler's upbringing in the church had a great impact on his life and music, and much of his music can be understood as an attempt to express his spirituality, including the aptly titled Spiritual Unity, and his album of spirituals, Goin' Home, which features "meandering" solos that are meant to be treated as meditations on sacred texts, and at some points as "speaking in tongues" with his saxophone. Ayler's experience in the church and exposure to swing jazz artists also impacted his sound: his wide vibrato was similar to that of gospel saxophonists, who sought a more vocal-like sound with their instruments, and to that of brass players in New Orleans swing bands.

Ayler attended John Adams High School on Cleveland's East Side, and graduated in 1954 at the age of 18. He later studied at the Academy of Music in Cleveland with jazz saxophonist Benny Miller. Ayler also played the oboe in high school. As a teenager, Ayler's understanding of bebop style and mastery of standard repertoire earned him the nickname of "Little Bird", after Charlie "Bird" Parker, in the small Cleveland jazz scene.

In 1952, at the age of 16, Ayler began playing bar-walking, honking, R&B-style tenor with blues singer and harmonica player Little Walter, spending two summer vacations with Walter's band. In 1958, after graduating from high school, Ayler joined the United States Army, where he switched from alto to tenor sax and jammed with other enlisted musicians, including tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. Ayler also played in the regiment band, along with future composer Harold Budd. In 1959 he was stationed in France, where he was further exposed to the martial music that would be a core influence on his later work. After his discharge from the army, Ayler tried to find work in Los Angeles and Cleveland, but his increasingly iconoclastic playing, which had moved away from traditional harmony, was not welcomed by traditionalists.

Ayler relocated to Sweden in 1962, where his recording career began, leading Swedish and Danish groups on radio sessions, and jamming as an unpaid member of Cecil Taylor's band in the winter of 1962-63. (Long-rumored tapes of Ayler performing with Taylor's group were released by Revenant Records in 2004, as part of a 10-CD set.) The album My Name Is Albert Ayler is a session of standards recorded for a Copenhagen radio station with local musicians including Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummer Ronnie Gardiner, with Ayler playing tenor and soprano on tracks such as "Summertime".Early recording career

In 1963, Ayler returned to the US and settled in New York City, where he continued to develop his personal style and occasionally played alongside free jazz pianist Cecil Taylor. 1964 was the most well-documented year of Ayler's career, during which he recorded many albums, the first of which was Witches and Devils in March of that year. Ayler also began his rich relationship with ESP-Disk Records in 1964, recording his breakthrough album (and ESP's very first jazz album) Spiritual Unity for the then-fledgling record label. ESP-Disk came to play an integral role in recording and disseminating free jazz. Spiritual Unity featured the trio that Ayler had just assembled that summer, including bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Sunny Murray. The liner notes of Spiritual Unity include a brief description of the musicians on that day, July 10, 1964, in the Variety Arts Recording Studio.

Just before 1 PM, Sunny Murray arrived, a large, genial walrus....Gary Peacock was next, tall, thin, ascetic looking, and soft spoken....Albert Ayler was last, small, wary, and laconic.

On July 17, 1964 the members of this trio, along with trumpet player Don Cherry, alto saxophonist John Tchicai, and trombonist Roswell Rudd, collaborated in recording New York Eye and Ear Control, a freely improvised soundtrack to Canadian artist and filmmaker Michael Snow's film of the same name. During this time, Ayler began to garner some attention from critics, although he was not able to foster much of a fan following. However, later in 1964, Ayler, Peacock, Murray, and Cherry were invited to travel to Europe for a brief Scandinavian tour, which too yielded some new recordings, including The Copenhagen Tapes, Vibrations, and The Hilversum Session.

Ayler recorded Bells on May 1, 1965. It is a ferociously-paced 20-minute improvisation featuring his signature military-march influenced melodies. Spirits Rejoice was recorded on September 23, 1965 at Judson Hall in New York City, and features a much larger band than the sparse trio of his earlier album Spiritual Unity. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music describes Spirits Rejoice as a "riotous, hugely emotional and astonishingly creative celebration of the urge to make noise." Both albums feature Albert's brother, trumpet player Donald Ayler, who translated his brother's expansive approach to improvisation to the trumpet. Donald played with Albert until he experienced a debilitating nervous breakdown in 1967.

In 1966 Ayler was signed to Impulse Records at the urging of Coltrane, the label's star attraction at that time. But even on Impulse, Ayler's radically different music never found a sizable audience. Ayler's first set for Impulse was recorded a few weeks before Christmas in 1966, entitled Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village. Ayler performed with his brother, Michel Samson, Beaver Harris, Henry Grimes, and Bill Folwell, and his Coltrane was in attendance. For a tune titled "For John Coltrane," Ayler returned to the alto saxophone for the first time in years.

Ayler first sang on a recording in a version of "Ghosts" performed in Paris in 1966, in which his vocal style was similar that of his saxophone, with an eerie disregard for pitch. Ayler continued to experiment with vocals for the rest of his career. In 1967, John Coltrane died of liver cancer, and Ayler was asked to perform at his iconic funeral. It is said that during his performance, Ayler ripped his saxophone from his mouth at two points: once, to emit a cry of anguish, the other a cry of joy to symbolize his friend and mentor's ascension into heaven.Final years

For the next two and half years Ayler began to move from a mostly improvisatory style to one that focused more closely on compositions. This was largely a result of pressures from Impulse who, unlike ESP-Disk, placed heavier emphasis on accessibility than artistic expression. In 1967 and 1968, Ayler recorded three LPs that featured the lyrics and vocals of his girlfriend Mary Maria Parks and introduced regular chord changes, funky beats, and electronic instruments.

Ayler himself sang on his album New Grass, which hearkened back to his roots in R&B as a teenager. However, this album was remarkably unsuccessful, scorned by Ayler fans and critics alike. Ayler staunchly asserted that he wanted to move in this R&B and rock-and-roll direction, and that he was not simply succumbing to the pressures of Impulse and the popular music of that day, and it is true that Ayler heavily emphasizes the spirituality that seems to define the bulk of his work. New Grass begins with the track "Message from Albert," in which Ayler speaks directly to his listener, explaining that this album was nothing like his ones before it, that was of "a different dimension in [his] life." He claims that, "through meditation, dreams, and visions, [he has] been made a Universal Man, through the power of the Creator..."

In 1968, Ayler submitted an impassioned, rambling open letter to Cricket magazine entitled "To Mr. Jones-I Had a Vision," in which he describes startling apocalyptic spiritual visions. He "saw in a vision the new Earth built by God coming out of Heaven," and implores the readers to share the message of Revelations, insisting that "This is very important. The time is now."

His final album, Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe, featured rock musicians such as Henry Vestine of Canned Heat alongside jazz musicians like pianist Bobby Few. This was a return to his blues-roots with very heavy rock influences, but did feature more of Ayler's signature timbre variations and energetic solos than the unsuccessful New Grass.

In July 1970 Ayler returned to the free jazz idiom for a group of shows in France (including at the Fondation Maeght), but the band he was able to assemble (Call Cobbs, bassist Steve Tintweiss and drummer Allen Blairman) was not regarded as being of the caliber of his earlier groups.

Ayler disappeared on November 5, 1970, and he was found dead in New York City's East River on November 25, a presumed suicide. For some time afterwards, rumors circulated that Ayler had been murdered, with a long standing urban legend that the Mafia tied him to a jukebox. Later, however, Parks would say that Ayler had been depressed and feeling guilty, blaming himself for his brother's problems. She stated that, just before his death, he had several times threatened to kill himself, smashed one of his saxophones over their television set after she tried to dissuade him, then took the Statue of Liberty ferry and jumped off as it neared Liberty Island. He is buried in Highland Park Cemetery in Beachwood, Ohio."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Ayler)
2/21/2024

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"Donald Ayler (October 5, 1942 - October 21, 2007) was a jazz trumpeter and younger brother to saxophonist Albert Ayler.

Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, he went on to work with his brother in the mid-1960s. In 1967 Donald had what he termed a "nervous breakdown", which affected his brother's life as well. In 1970 his brother's death affected him deeply. After that he did work with a septet in Florence, but remains best known for his connection to Albert.

Donald appears in the documentary film My Name Is Albert Ayler where he talks about his and Albert's life, their music and their relationship. He is also featured in archival footage from concerts in Europe in 1966. The new sequences with him were filmed in Cleveland, Ohio in 2001 and 2002.

Ayler suffered a sudden heart attack on Sunday October 21, 2007, and died at home in Northfield, Ohio."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Ayler)
2/21/2024

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Michel Samson, born in 1944 in Rijswijk, was an American violinist of Dutch origin best known for being a member of the Albert Ayler Quintet. Samson began began studying the violin when he was five years old, receiving a grant from the Dutch Government to study in Germany at the age of 11. After that he studied with Yehudi Menuhin in Rome, where composer Gian-Carlo Menotti arranged a grant for him to study in New York with Ivan Gelamian. He met Albert Ayler in 1966 while performing with the Cleveland Orchestra and joined his band. He also was a professor and violinist in residence at the Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.

-Squidco, Ayler.co.uk (http://www.ayler.co.uk/html/interview1.html#samsonjazzwereld)
2/21/2024

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"Milford Graves (born August 20, 1941 in Queens, New York) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist, most noteworthy for his early avant-garde contributions in the early 1960s with Paul Bley and the New York Art Quartet alongside John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, and Reggie Workman. He is considered to be a free jazz pioneer, liberating the percussion from its timekeeping role. In fact, many of his music contemporaries, musician inspirees, and fans worldwide would argue that Graves is perhaps the most influential known musician in the development and continuing evolution of free-jazz/avant-garde music, to date. Milford Graves taught at Bennington College, in Bennington, Vermont, as a full-time professor from 1973 until 2011, when he was awarded Emeritus status.

Initially playing timbales as a kid growing up in Queens, Graves has worked as a sideman and session musician with a variety of jazz musicians throughout his career, including Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Don Pullen, Kenny Clarke, Don Moye, Andrew Cyrille, Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Gómez, and John Zorn. He has invested his time in research within the field of healing through music.

In 2013, Milford Graves along with Drs.Carlo Tremolada and Carlo Ventura received a patent for an invention that relates to a process of preparing a non-expanded tissue derivative, that is not subjected to cell proliferation in vitro, which has a vascular-stromal fraction enriched in stem and multipotent elements, such as pericytes and/or mesenchymal stem cells, or for preparing non-embryonic stem cells obtained from a tissue sample or from such tissue derivative, wherein the tissue derivative or such cells are subjected to vibrations derived from a heart sound to control the degree of differentiation or possible differentiation of the stem and multipotent elements into several other types of cells and optimize their potency. The invention relates also to a device for carrying out the process, to stem cells obtainable by the process as well as a drug for the regeneration of an animal tissue."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milford_Graves)
2/21/2024

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"Richard Davis is an international performing musician and Professor of Bass (European Classicaland Jazz), Jazz History and combo improvisation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Chicagoborn, he came to the UW-Madison in 1977 after spending 23 years in New York City establishinghimself as one of the world's premier bass players. Downbeat International Critics Poll named himBest Bassist from 1967-74. He has recorded a dozen albums as a leader and 3000 recordings andjingles as a sideman. His performance/recording credits include Sarah Vaughan, Eric Dolphy, DonSebesky, Oliver Nelson, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, MilesDavis, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Band, Dexter Gordon, Ahmad Jamal and a host of other notables.​Mr. Davis is equally at home in the world of euro classical music, having played under the batons ofGeorge Szell, Leopold Stokowski, Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez, Gunther Schuller, and LeonardBernstein. His great versatility as a bassist keeps him in constant demand for worldwide concertappearances. For nearly fifty years he has drawn enthusiastic audiences in Japan, Europe, Russia,South America, Puerto Rico, Cuba, The West Indies, Hong Kong , Israel and United States. His mostrecent CD release (May 2000) , The Bassists: Homage to Diversity (King Records) was recorded inJapan. This CD was inspired by experiences related to diversity dialogue. His second CD with King records So In Love was assembled with the idea of embracing the oneness of humankind.

In 1993, he founded the Richard Davis Foundation for Young Bassists, Inc. which annually brings in 17 masterful bass instructors/performers to teach young bassists ages 3-18.In 1998 he created the Retention Action Project (R.A.P.) focused on open dialogues in subjects that educate all of us to multicultural differences. R.A.P. collaborated with Vice Chancellor Paul W. Barrows (student affairs) and Seema Kapani, Diversity Education Coordinator/Trainer (Equity and Diversity Resourse Center).He has been instrumental in bringing to the UW campus renowned speakers and social change activists such as Peggy McIntosh, Jane Elliott, Francie Kendall, Nathan Rutstein, Victor Lewis, Hugh Vasquez (Color of Fear, Stir Fry Productions,1994) and Allan G. Johnson (Gender Knot). Prof. Davis is devoted to equity issues and shares freely his wisdom, home, and resources with one and all to help create an environment where all can experience dignity and peace. He has also initiated a chapter in Madison of the "Institutes for the Healing of Racism, Inc."

Prof. Davis has received honorary doctorate degrees in Musical Arts and Humane Letters, and the Hilldale Award for distinguished teaching from former Chancellor Donna Shalala, and a honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Edgewood College, Madison, in 1998. In 2000 he received the Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Award from the Rotary Club Of Madison. In 2001 he received the Governor's of Wisconsin Arts Award.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award, bestowed annually by the City of Madison, was presented to Dr. Richard Davis by Mayor Susan J.M. Bauman during the 18th Annual City-County Observance of Dr. King's birth at the Madison Civic Center, on Monday, January, 2003. (Interview)

In 2008, Richard Davis received the MAMA (Madison Area Music Award Michael St. John Lifetime Achievement Award, Human Rights Award (Rev.James C. Wright), "FIGS" 2008 First Interest Group Students (Freshman Year), the TRIO award/first in family to go to College/Awarded by Caroline McCormack. In 2009 he received the Exceptional Service Award University of Wisconsin-Madison 2009 (Gary Sandefur, Dean), and the Spencer Tracy Award for Distinction in the Performing Arts (Wisconsin Historical Society)."

-Richard Website (https://www.richarddavis.org/)
2/21/2024

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"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.

Solo concerts

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.

2000s

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.

Poetry

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).

Personal life

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.

Death

Taylor died on April 5. 2018 at tbe age of 89."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Taylor)
2/21/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Jimmy Lyons (December 1, 1931 – May 19, 1986) was an alto saxophone player. He is best known for his long tenure in the Cecil Taylor Unit. Lyons was the only constant member of the band from the mid-1960s until his death in 1986. Taylor never worked with another musician as frequently as he did with Lyons. Lyons' playing, influenced by Charlie Parker, kept Taylor's avant-garde music tethered to the jazz tradition.

Lyons was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and raised there until the age of 9, when his mother moved the family to Harlem and then the Bronx. He obtained his first saxophone in the mid-1940s and took lessons from Buster Bailey.

After high school, Lyons was drafted into the United States Army and spent 21 months on infantry duty in Korea. He then spent a year playing in army bands. Once discharged he attended New York University. By the end of the 1950s, Lyons was supporting his interest in music by working for the United States Postal Service.

In 1961, Lyons followed Archie Shepp into the saxophone role in the Cecil Taylor Unit. His post-Parker sound and strong melodic sense became a defining part of the sound of that group, from the 1962 Cafe Montmartre sessions onwards.

During the 1970s Lyons also ran his own ensemble, with bassoonist Karen Borca and percussionist Paul Murphy. They often performed in the loft jazz movement around Studio Rivbea. Lyons' group and Cecil Taylor Unit continued a parallel development throughour the 1970s and 1980s, often involving the same musicians, including trumpeter Raphe Malik, bassist William Parker and percussionist Murphy.

In 1976, Lyons performed in a production of Adrienne Kennedy's A Rat's Mass directed by Cecil Taylor at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in the East Village of Manhattan. Musicians Rashid Bakr, Andy Bey, Karen Borca, David S. Ware, and Raphe Malik also performed in the production. Taylor's production combined the original script with a chorus of orchestrated voices used as instruments.

Lyons died from lung cancer in 1986 at the age of 54. He didn't publish many recordings with his own ensemble, though Ayler Records did release a 5-CD box set of recordings from 1972 to 1985."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Lyons)
2/21/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"James Marcellus Arthur "Sunny" Murray (born September 21, 1936 in Idabel, Oklahoma) is one of the pioneers of the free jazz style of drumming.

Murray spent his youth in Philadelphia before moving to New York City where he began playing with Cecil Taylor: "We played for about a year, just practicing, studying - we went to workshops with Varèse, did a lot of creative things, just experimenting, without a job" He was featured on the influential 1962 concerts in Denmark released as Nefertiti the Beautiful One Has Come.

Murray was among the first to forgo the drummer's traditional role as timekeeper in favor of purely textural playing. "Murray's aim was to free the soloist completely from the restrictions of time, and to do this he set up a continual hailstorm of percussion ... continuous ringing stickwork on the edge of the cymbals, an irregular staccato barrage on the snare, spasmodic bass drum punctuation and constant, but not metronomic, use of the sock-cymbal"

After his period with Taylor's group, Murray's influence continued as a core part of Albert Ayler's trio who recorded Spiritual Unity: "Sunny Murray and Albert Ayler did not merely break through bar lines, they abolished them altogether."

He later recorded under his own name for ESP-Disk and then when he moved to Europe for BYG Actuel."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_Murray)
2/21/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Our Prayer 07:37

2. Japan (traditional) Universal Indians 05:40

3. Truth Is Marching In / Omega 08:57

4. Love Cry / Truth Is Marching In / Our Prayer 06:24

5. Four 21:27

Related Categories of Interest:


Hat Art
Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
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ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd.


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