Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures

More a force of nature than a musician, Cecil Taylor is the most advanced piano player in existence, in jazz or any other music. The innovations he has brought are so vast that only a few have ever been picked up by other players, and yet even those are not quite being grasped in full. This is "Unit Structures", one of his two Blue Note masterpieces of the 60s.

"...Taylor developed a radical improvising style at the piano that indulged in tone clusters, percussive attacks and irregular polyrhythmic patterns, a very "physical" style that required a manic energy during lengthy and frenzied performances, a somewhat "cacophonous" style that relished both atonal and tonal passages. The dynamic range of his improvisations was virtually infinite.

It took three years for Taylor to release another album, and it presented a larger ensemble and an even wilder sound, as violent as garage-rock, bordering on hysteria: Unit Structures (may 1966) featured (mostly) a septet with Lyons, Eddie Gale Stevens on trumpet, Ken McIntyre on alto sax, oboe and bass clarinet, two bassists (Henry Grimes and Alan Silva) and Andrew Cyrille on drums. These pieces (or, better, "structures") were conceived as sequences of polyphonic events rather than, say, series of variations on a theme. Nonetheless, Unit Structure, Enter Evening and Steps were highly structured compositions, and therein lied Taylor's uniqueness: his "free jazz" was also "free" of the melodrama that permeated Coltrane's and Coleman's music. Despite all the furor, Taylor's music always sounded firmly under the control of a cold intelligence." - Scaruffi

unit structures

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