From cacophony to clarity: Cecil Taylor's 1973 return concert is a fresh revelation
Cecil Taylor's intensity at the piano conjured a musical sorcery stretching far beyond himself or his collaborators. In a 1975 interview with Boston Public Television, he said: "The purpose of the music is to achieve a levitation or a trance which is the existence beyond the normal existence."
As polarizing as it continues to be, Taylor's music demands a courageousness and engagement from listeners that can be amazingly rewarding. His dynamism comes across as a full spectrum on Cecil Taylor - The Complete, Legendary, Live Return Concert, due out on Oblivion Records on Feb. 15.
This performance, made at at the Town Hall on Nov. 4, 1973, served as Taylor's first appearance in the New York area in five years. In the interim, his tenure as visiting professor at Antioch College and University of Wisconsin-Madison did nothing to diminish his power. If anything, the newly unearthed, 88-minute piece "Autumn/Parade" shows Taylor in unbridled form, with an endurance and energy flow that outpaces even his formidable band members: saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, bassist Sirone and drummer Andrew Cyrille.
In this episode of Jazz United, we dive into this concert, discuss Taylor's impact on our listening — and welcome an expert witness, WBGO's John Newcott, who was in attendance at the Town Hall that evening. What Newcott saw left an impression that confirms Taylor's ability to transport active listeners into a completely different space.
This I Dig:
- Nate digs Ronnie's, a documentary film about Ronnie Scott's
- Greg is digging The Sopranos, and James Gandolfini in particular
Jazz United is produced for WBGO Studios by Trevor Smith.