Cecil Taylor: Danger Ahead!

Taylor’s 1958 “Looking Ahead!” album gave us a taste of what was to come: a pianist who was rapidly leaving behind familiar jazz tonality, ryhthm and structure. Somewhere between his early beginning in the mid-Fifties and the complex angular compositions of his later Blue Note records, “Unit Structures” (1966) and “Conquistador” (1968) sits “The World of Cecil Taylor” (1960).

The record introduces a bemused Archie Shepp holding down the beautiful lyrical jazz standard “Lazy Afternoon” ( made famous by linear  guitar solo eminence grise  Grant Green) whilst Taylor deconstructs and procedes to demolish the piece over 14 minutes. It has a horrible beauty, repeated with another much-loved standard from Rogers and Hammerstein.  Taylor treads the fine line between integration and disintegration – the original standard is still in there – peeping out – while dissonances, cadences and polyrythmic note clusters confound expectations.

The result is not to everyones taste. It was spinning on the turntable when Mrs LJC walked in and announced “Turn that down, it’s horrible” (I made a similar remark later regarding the sound of the Dyson Upright cleaner) I could have gone futher. “It’s not anywhere near as horrible as some free jazz!”  but thought better of it – to maintain domestic , if not musical harmony.

Chances of finding an original US Candid pressing are not high, so I was pleased to pick up this japanese pressing on eBay, by the excellent Victor Music Industries, Japan, for just a few pounds. Like I said, not to everyone’s taste, and I am still undecided how far it is mine.

The second track with Archie Shepp, “Air”, has numerous Youtube postings, by way of a sample to taste and try:

7 thoughts on “Cecil Taylor: Danger Ahead!

  1. These are Bible words!
    I don’t look at tv at all, except football.
    My wife knows everything about X-factor, Fame, Big brother and all the rubbish like that.
    She says it’s relaxing.
    I’ve got no time for such relaxing.
    But, a question for all jazz fans who are married: why men only?
    Can’t a woman become a jazz lover as we are?
    As far as I know this is a man’s, man’s, man’s world.

    • This is a profound question Dott. Why is jazz “men’s music”? Or indeed a lot of music generally?

      It occurs to me making music is often men’s work – jazz musicians are with just a few exceptions,almost all men. I rather think that male creativity is channeled into creating and consuming the performing arts. Women tend to be creative in other ways – they create children and families, are more interested in “relationships” which is why they like to watch Big Brother, following the teens and twenties relationships in the Big Brother House, and Soap Operas (otherwise known as “rubbish”)

      And I can tell you they are definitely not interested in ” music machines” – hifi, boxes, wires, tonearms, power conditioners, interconnects, fuses. At least not in my house. She often tells me my speakers are too big, and too loud. Always “too” something.She may well be right, but that’s the way they are meant to be. The Defence rests.

  2. It seems you’ve entered the wild side really!
    here we have the first (shy) recordings of Archie Shepp. All Candid material is also on Mosaic.
    Taylor was experimenting with standards (no interest) as well as originals (interest).
    It’s still listenable while his later 60’s and 70’s works are hard for me too.
    for anyone’s wife, impossible.

    • My wife would claim she knows nothing about jazz, but knows a “horrible noise” when she hears one. By the same token I know very little about reality TV and the X-Factor, but I know rubbish when I see it.

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