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: