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  • richardmitnick 6:40 AM on June 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Andrew Cyrille, Cecil Taylor, ,   

    From NEWMUSICBOX: “A Lot of Energy—Remembering Cecil Taylor (1929-2018)” 

    New Music USA


    From NEWMUSICBOX

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    IMAGE: Michael Hoefner (CC 3.0)

    June 22, 2018
    Andrew Cyrille

    I met Cecil Taylor in 1958 through Ted Curson, the trumpet player from Philadelphia. It was at a rehearsal in Brooklyn that I was doing with another pianist, one of my colleagues from high school, Leslie Brathwaite. Ted and a saxophone player named Harold Owsley were walking by this place where I was rehearsing and they heard me and Lesley, so they came in to see what was going on. They stayed for a while and after we finished up, Ted said to me that he was going to go to Manhattan for a rehearsal with this pianist named Cecil Taylor. “You’ve never heard anyone play piano like him,” he told me. “So if you want to come, I’ll introduce you.”

    So I went with him to the Hartnett School of Music, and he introduced me to Cecil. After the rehearsal Ted had to leave, but before that he asked Cecil if I could play with him and Cecil said, “Yeah, sure.” After Ted left, Cecil and I stayed there together. But then the school closed, so I told Cecil that there was a place up in Harlem called Place Pigalle where I’d go sometimes to do jam sessions. There was a piano there and I knew the bartender, so I thought we could go up there and continue playing. So we took the subway and went uptown to Amsterdam Avenue and 152 Street, and I asked the bartender if we could play and he said okay. So we sat down and started playing again. But I didn’t start playing with Cecil on a professional level until 1965 and, by that time, I had a full palette of music I had been playing with other people.

    That happened again at the Hartnett School of Music. I was there studying harmony and theory, and I was also playing in the big band there. One day, while I was playing with the big band, Cecil was rehearsing in another room. At one point, he came over to me and asked me to come to his rehearsal room after I finished with the band. Sonny Murray was supposed to be at that rehearsal because they had a job at Brandeis University, but Sonny didn’t show up. So Cecil asked me if I would want to take the job and I said sure. Jimmy Lyons was in the room and so was Albert Ayler, but Albert didn’t make that job. There was a bass player who went with us whose name I can’t remember right now. But that’s how I started playing with Cecil. From that first job at Brandeis until 1976, I played every single job with him for 11 years straight except for one in the earlier years that Milford Graves did with him in Pittsburgh.

    We would rehearse for hours and then Jimmy and I would pack up, Cecil would still be there at the piano practicing. Sometimes I’d think, “Gee, this guy’s really got a lot of energy.” That was very impressive to me. He was very dedicated. But throughout the years we were together, Cecil never told me what to play. He never said, “Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that.” Both of us came out of the tradition. I never met Charlie Parker, but I met Max Roach when I was 11 years old. I started in the drum and bugle corps in Brooklyn, and people like Willie Jones and Lennie McBrowne would come down and help the kids and would say there are other ways of playing drums other than playing marches. So I started playing the trap set and as a result, in high school, I wanted to get into playing jazz. That’s where I met Eric Gale, the guitar player, and Leslie Brathwaite and we started playing as a trio. You have to begin somewhere, so we learned Cole Porter tunes and Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie tunes.

    Cecil didn’t always play the way he did. He was doing stuff with Bill Barron and Ted Curson and Dennis Charles. Cecil loved Duke Ellington. Sometimes, if you listen to the stuff that Cecil played later on, you can hear some Duke Ellington in it. He also liked the drummer Sonny Greer, who worked with Ellington. Eventually Cecil decided that he wanted to do the kinds of things you hear on Unit Structures, which he had already started doing before that when he played with Sonny Murray at Café Montmartre in Denmark. But our direction always came from what had preceded us, because if what preceded us was not what it was, we would not have had those shoulders to stand on. So when we got together to play and he was playing how he played, I had to decide how to play in relation to what he was doing. I could have thought about playing metrical time, but it didn’t work for what he was doing so I had to decide to do something else.

    Music has so many different components to it—you bring all that to the table and then you think about what the concept is and you have to deliver it with an emotional connection so that most human beings relate to it with some kind of emotion. It could be, “This stuff is great; I love it!” or “I can’t stand it.” But it gets to people for that reason. I don’t think anybody sits there and tries to analyze what they’re hearing on a scientific level. They like it, or they don’t like it.

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    Cecil Taylor at the piano during Open Plan: Cecil Taylor on April 14 2016 at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph © Paula Court. courtesy Whitney Museum.

    After we played at Brandeis and Bennington College, Blue Note wanted Cecil to record for them, although I don’t think he ever said, “Let’s rehearse because I’ve got a Blue Note date.” For Unit Structures, he assembled some more musicians to add other voices, like Eddie Gale Stevens Jr. and Ken McIntyre, and we had two bass players—Henry Grimes and Alan Silva. Cecil’s expectation was that the musicians would play the music the way he gave out notes. Most jazz has a prescription. Somebody writes a composition and they would like the people who they hire to bring their signatures to the composition. With the prescription of the composition, improvisation takes place and how the musicians improvise on what is given denotes their signatures. It’s really a two process thing: people write the compositions and then they get the musicians to interpret it. There’s another way that compositions are made, sometimes it’s just with free improvisation, so then the composition comes after the fact. We rehearsed a lot for Unit Structures, but if I had to write out all those rhythms that I played, I don’t think I could do that. It’s just a feeling.

    When people listen to recordings, I don’t know how they react because I’m not there. So many writers wrote about it and what some of the writers wrote about it was good and it wound up in the Smithsonian Collection, so it had to have impressed some people! After that, when we recorded Conquistador, also for Blue Note, Bill Dixon played with us. But a lot of people didn’t particular care for the music that we were making. That’s the way it always goes. Not everybody is going to love everything you do and you can’t expect that. A lot of times in the earlier years, Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, and I—and maybe one or two other people on occasion, like Alan Silva—would make maybe only three jobs a year, so it was not really that heavy in terms of quantity of work. More often than not, when a record comes out, it takes a while to circulate and perhaps as it circulates around the world, people begin to be impressed by it, so then we began to get calls. Eventually, as time went on, we began to work more.

    The first time I ever went to Europe was with Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, and Alan Silva. It was right after those Blue Note dates. I think it was Alan Silva’s first time in Europe also, but not Cecil’s. It was a lot of fun. The first job we had was in Germany. We did a concert in Stuttgart, which was recorded back stage. And we did an interview for a magazine called Jazz Podium. I remember the woman who was the editor, Gudrun Endress, chaperoned us for a couple of days and then we went to Paris. We were invited over there by a group of young French aficionados; none of them were musicians, but they really appreciated what we were doing so they wanted us to come over to Paris and play the music.

    A few years later, we were in St. Paul de Vence at the Maeght Foundation, which has a lot of paintings by Miró and Bacon and sculptures by Calder and Modigliani. It was Sam Rivers, Jimmy Lyons, myself, and Cecil. Alan had left the group some time before that. I don’t recall us doing very much more after that with a bass player. Obviously he felt that he didn’t need one. We played a great concert there, and we all got lithographs from Miró—who lived on the grounds there—because he was so impressed with what we did. After the rehearsals for that, we’d go into Nice and go to the discotheques and have a party and dance to whatever was popular, like James Brown. Cecil loved to dance.

    Toward the end of the time I played with him, we went to Japan. It was just Jimmy, Cecil, and myself. We played what we played. We played duets. We played trios. This is my own feeling, but you can make music with anybody. You don’t have to have a set formula like trumpet, saxophone, bass, piano. That’s okay, but you don’t have to have that. As you play, the music becomes so substantial that you don’t even miss the other voice until it gets there and then it adds to the mix. Music comes from the inside out, not from the outside in.

    Later that year we played at Town Hall, and Sirone played bass at that concert with us. After that, we kind of separated. Jimmy stayed, but I started to do other stuff. Maybe if I would have stayed, Cecil would have preferred that. I don’t know. I just felt that it was time for me to do something else. But I still played with him a couple of times afterwards. It wasn’t like after that there was nothing else. I played with him at a place called Fat Tuesday’s in Manhattan, and we did something again up at Symphony Space a couple of years after that. The last thing that I did with him was a concert in Berlin. It was after the wall came down. I played timpani some on that and Cecil was also playing timpani. I remember as I was playing drums, he just got up and started playing timpani. Cecil was different.

    Having worked with Cecil, I felt like I could make music with anybody on the planet and I do. I’ve gone to Japan and played with Japanese musicians, I’ve gone to Africa and played with Africans, and I’ve gone to Israel and played with Israelis…Italy, Russia. But I had a lot of opportunities I never would have had if I wasn’t with Cecil.

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    Andrew Cyrille at his solo performance during Open Plan: Cecil Taylor on April 16 2016 at The Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph © Paula Court, courtesy Whitney Museum.

    As time went on and Cecil had gotten older, he had severe arthritis so it was difficult for him to walk. But on occasion, as he was getting older, he would come and listen to the groups I had been working in with Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, and Geri Allen.

    A couple of years ago, they did a big thing for him at the Whitney Museum of Art. They had a whole floor that was dedicated to him. I didn’t even know about the comprehensiveness of the things he had done and the people he had been involved with. But during that week, they asked me to play a solo, so I played a solo and he came. He was right in the front row, and he enjoyed it. And then I did a trio with Enrico Rava and William Parker, and he stayed for that. That’s the last time I saw him dressed and socializing in public.

    When I next saw him, he was at a rehabilitation center on York Avenue around 76th Street. We had a good time just reminiscing about the past and what was going on now. He was still Cecil, even though from time to time, he wouldn’t remember things. Then he had to go back to the hospital; he was in a lot of pain. But when I saw him in the funeral parlor, he was laid out like a prince.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    At NEWMUSICUSA, we see ourselves first and foremost as advocates. Our mission is to support and promote new music created in the United States. We do that in many ways, fostering connections, deepening knowledge, encouraging appreciation, and providing financial support. In recognition of the possibility and power inherent in the virtual world, we’ve worked to build a strong internet platform to serve our constituency. And that constituency is broad and diverse, from composers and performers to presenters and producers, casual listeners to die-hard fans. We’re truly committed to serving the WHOLE new music community.

    As we go about our work, we make a point of not defining too precisely what we mean by new music. To define is to limit. It’s a spectacular time for musical creativity in part because so much music is being made that isn’t bound by conventional limitations of style or genre or background. The music that we hear being created in such abundance all around us is definition enough. We simply want it to flourish.

    We’re fortunate to have as our legacy the history of previous decades of good works done by the American Music Center and Meet The Composer, the two great organizations that merged to form us in 2011. Their legacies have also brought a small financial endowment that mostly helps support our grantmaking. But we’re not a foundation. We depend decisively each year on the generosity of so many institutions and individuals around the country who are dedicated as we are to the advancement of new music and are devoted to supporting our work.

    New Music USA is part of an international community of advocates for the arts. We’re members of the Performing Arts Alliance, the International Association of Music Information Centres, and the International Society for Contemporary Music. Those partnerships help us represent the interests of our constituents at every level.

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 12:24 PM on April 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, , Gato Barbieri, , Jazz Composer’s Orchestra recording of 1968, , Music composed and cunducted by Michael Mantler, Pharoah Sanders, Roswell Rudd   

    From ECM: ” Jazz Composer’s Orchestra” 

    New from ECM

    ECM might just be the finest recording company in the world.

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    This week’s Sunday Song features Cecil Taylor who passed away last week. His towering influence touched successive generations of improvising musicians, including pianists associated with ECM – from Keith Jarrett to Marilyn Crispell, Craig Taborn, David Virelles, Jason Moran and Vijay Iyer.

    Trumpeter Michael Mantler was amongst the first European musicians to work with Taylor, joining his group in 1964 and subsequently featuring Cecil as principal soloist in his tremendous Jazz Composer’s Orchestra recording of 1968.

    “This is the most forceful sustained performance that Taylor has recorded, and one of his very best as well,” wrote Down Beat at the time. Fifty years later the music still seems as modern as tomorrow.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 8:51 AM on April 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cecil Taylor, ,   

    From The New Yorker: “Cecil Taylor and the Art of Noise” 

    new-yorker-bloc-rea-irvin
    Rea Irvin

    The New Yorker

    April 10, 2018
    Alex Ross

    Cecil Taylor

    In 1993, I briefly met the composer György Ligeti, one of the towering figures of the past hundred years of music. As often happens when one is in the company of greats, I seized the opportunity to ask an idiotic question: “What do you think of Cecil Taylor?” Ligeti possessed a comprehensive knowledge of the world’s musical traditions, including jazz. But he had little more than a vaguely positive impression of Taylor. I failed to hit whatever interpretive jackpot I had been expecting.

    Ligeti died in 2006, at the age of eighty-three. Taylor died last week, at eighty-nine. In truth, the two had little in common, other than a propensity for seething, maximalist textures. What united them in my mind was how they guided me as brilliant beacons at a time when I was discovering the full extent of twentieth-century musical possibility. We tend to think of genres as distinct land masses, with oceans of taste separating them. Yet, as I observed when I wrote about Taylor and Sonic Youth, in 1998, there exist polar regions where the distinctions tend to blur—namely, the zone that is often labelled “avant” or “experimental” in used-record stores. When dissonance and complexity build to a sufficient degree, works of classical, jazz, or rock descent can sound more like one another than like their parent genres.

    I grew up with classical music and came late to rock, pop, and jazz. I took the northern passage between genres, and Taylor was, somewhat perversely, the first jazz figure who caught my ear—perversely because he had only one foot in jazz, as conventionally defined. The pianist and composer Ethan Iverson, commenting on a 1973 trio recording, writes that Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille, Taylor’s partners on this occasion, “sound like jazz musicians.” Taylor, however, “didn’t sound like that. He had another kind of poetry, some other kind of sheer strength of will.” The New Yorker’s Richard Brody observes that, even on the début album Jazz Advance, from 1956, Taylor had “left chordal jazz behind and spun musical material of his own choosing (whether harmonic, motivic, melodic, or rhythmic) into kaleidoscopic cascades of sound.” The question of whether Taylor was “really jazz” was once a hot topic in the jazz world, and he elicited a few sharp putdowns from fellow-musicians. “Total self-indulgent bullshit” was Branford Marsalis’s notorious judgment on Taylor’s modernist philosophy in the Ken Burns documentary “Jazz.” Miles Davis said, of a Taylor record, “Take it off! That’s some sad shit, man.” Such is the fate of the outsider in any genre.

    For me, Taylor was the untouchable emperor of the art of noise. I first saw him in 1989, at the Western Front, a club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also on the bill was the David Gilmore Trio; Marvin Gilmore, Jr., David Gilmore’s father, owned the club, which was best known for its reggae nights. Several shaggy-haired patrons audibly expressed their bewilderment as the performance unfolded; it turned out that they had come expecting to hear David Gilmour, of Pink Floyd. I don’t remember much in detail about Taylor’s set, in which he was joined by William Parker, on bass, and Gregg Bendian, on drums. I do recall that for the first five or ten minutes the music was dense, intense, driving, ferocious—and then it started. Some frenzy of figuration under Taylor’s hummingbird hands set off a collective pandemonium that became purely physical in effect: I felt at once pressed backward and pulled in. It remains one of the most visceral listening experiences of my life.

    Taylor always shunned labels. He often used “jazz” in virtual quotation marks, even though he recognized it as his home tradition. He was also wary of the word “composer.” A graduate of the New England Conservatory, he was rigorously trained in classical composition and performance, and could fire off precise references to Webern, Xenakis, and, yes, Ligeti. But he disliked the idea of the composer as a mastermind controlling every aspect of music behind the scenes. In 1989, Steve Lake wrote, of Taylor: “In a dismissive tone, he can make ‘composer’ sound like ‘dictator’ or ‘megalomaniac.’ ‘I don’t think I’d ever want to be considered a composer’ (accompanying the word with an expression of acute distaste).” In this Taylor was akin to his idol, Duke Ellington, who resisted European archetypes of composition and sought to create his own jazz-based African-American version of it. Ellington and Taylor were vastly different: the one suave, aristocratic, buoyant, popular; the other irregular, anarchic, confrontational, anti-commercial. But Taylor emulated Ellington’s way of composing with and through his groups. Taylor would give his collaborators notated material, yet they had the freedom to express themselves through the written notes or abandon them altogether.

    Taylor could indeed create atonal music on the fly, as if he were improvising a Charles Ives sonata or a Stockhausen Klavierstück. At his most diabolical, he sounds like several of Conlon Nancarrow’s hyperkinetic player-piano rolls playing simultaneously. Those splatters of notes are hardly random, however. He pummels the piano in different registers and then repeats the gesture with startling precision. His hands always go where his brain directs them to go. And he would return to tonal groundings after long spells in a gravity-free environment. Something I particularly loved about his recordings and performances—I saw him a handful of times in the nineties and the aughts—were the grand, mournful, minor-mode themes that would periodically loom out of the harmonic fog. They struck me as fundamentally Romantic in contour—perhaps a bit Brahmsian, for lack of a better point of reference. I have stitched together a few of them, from 3 Phasis, Winged Serpent, and Alms / Tiergarten (Spree), which you can listen to here.

    The last example comes from a set of eleven CDs released by the Free Music Production label, documenting Taylor’s residency in Berlin in the summer of 1988. Alms, a two-hour marathon featuring a seventeen-piece group called the Cecil Taylor European Orchestra, included such avant-jazz luminaries as Evan Parker, Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, and Han Bennink. The music moves in like a weather system, a slow-gathering, all-engulfing storm of sound. On the FMP recording, the orchestra is plainly working from a score and periodically settles on a particular figure, though crisp unisons are not the point. (Taylor himself often ignores the big patterns he has set in motion and dances deliriously against the grain.) I witnessed the same mighty convergence at a live show at Iridium, in 2005, with a fifteen-piece band. As the music swayed between quasi-symphonic utterances and every-which-way melees, it presented a totality, a sprawling structure built in real time.

    As Iverson says, no one else played like Taylor, and no one will. Nonetheless, he leaves a potent legacy for the ever-growing body of music that unfolds in the spaces between jazz and classical traditions, between European and African-American cultures, between composition and improvisation. With Taylor, the refusal of category, the resistance to description, was rooted in an attitude of defiance that seemed variously personal, cultural, and political. At a famously contentious discussion at Bennington College in 1964, Taylor said: “The jazz musician has taken Western music and made of it what he wanted to make of it.” As a queer black man—he rejected the label “gay”—he experienced racism in the wider world and homophobia within jazz. As the purveyor of music that most people found incomprehensible, he encountered a disdain that frequently boiled over into irrational hatred. His imperious indifference followed the example of the European masters who looked nothing like him, and whose company he joins.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
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