Stereo in this case is an asset in following the music, which is a harbinger of Cecil Taylor’s later more exploratory and rhythmically free collaborative playing . In this early work (in contrast to the 1958 milieu of Bop) the combination of Taylor’s piano straining against an early avant-garde leash, paired with Earl Griffith’s cool “behind the curve” vibraharp, creates a fresh unpredictable sound palette, with bass and drums maintaining rhythmic coherence. As spoof Jazz Club’s Louis Balfour would say, “Nice!”
Taylor’s two Blue Notes – BLP 4237 “Unit Structures” (1966, New York labels, no “ear” Liberty/ Blue Note transition) and BLP4260 “Conquistador” (1966 Liberty) continued his avant garde direction, which eventually falls over the edge into creative cacophony (to my ear) on the three volumes of “Nuits de la Fondation Maeght” (recorded live in 1969 at a modern art gallery outside St Paul-de-Vence, France)
Looking Ahead! is not a record of very high value to jazz collectors: Popsike top price $130, mean $55, 16 sold, so a bargain for jazz listeners. Unsurprisingly most copies listed are near mint, suggesting it was rarely taken to the kinds of parties where dancing shook the record player arm. But great introspective and thoughtful late night listening.
Vinyl: released as M3562 (mono, yellow label, 1959) this first stereo pressing S7562 (green/gold label, deep groove) was released a few years after, around 1963 if the inner sleeve is anything to go by.