Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Favorite Cecil

Howard Mandel's blog, Jazz Beyond Jazz, had a couple of posts about Cecil Taylor's 80th birthday, and following a comment I wrote he asked me to name my favorite Taylor recordings. That's a serious undertaking, but here's my list in chronological order:

The trio recordings with Buell Neidlinger and Dennis Charles that first appeared on The World of Cecil Taylor. These sides show his connection with post-bop jazz and the rhythm section gets him.

Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come, with Jimmy Lyons and Sunny Murray. Just sublime playing by all; if only the damn piano had been in tune!

Leaf Palm Hand, the duets with Tony Oxley. Taylor has worked with some great drummers, but Oxley reacts and anticipates him like no other.

2 Ts for a lovely T, with the Feel Trio of William Parker and Oxley. Fantastic interplay, plus I'm a sucker for box sets.

Nailed, with Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Oxley. Just try to catch your breath after this one.

The Tree of Life. Cecil solo.

Almeda, with an eight-piece ensemble. This size unit gives the music more space to breath than Cecil's larger ensembles.


  1. My favorite Cecil discs are as follows:

    Leaf Palm Hand--no question about the communication among the two musicians. I saw the trio with William Parker and Tony Oxley in Fort Worth in 1989, and will never forget the experience.

    Garden--This solo, which I still own only on LP, is my favorite solo disc, even moreso than the Tree of Life or the more recent disc on the fine Intakt label.

    Calling it the Eighth--This is a fantastic quartet disc that emphasizes the great connection between Cecil and the late Jimmy Lyons.

    Interesting that you mention Howard Mandel here. Last time I saw Howard was at a Cecil Taylor gig in NYC with William Parker and Gregg Bendian!

  2. Wow, I can't believe Taylor was in Ft. Worth in '89 (Caravan of Dreams I'll bet), and I let it pass right by me!