Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Cecil!

March 15 (or 25, depending on the source) was Cecil Taylor's 80th birthday. Of all the jazz and improvising artists out there, Cecil's catalog is the one I've most obsessively collected. 

The first record of Cecil's that I heard was Silent Tongues, the live solo recording from Montreux, when I had only recently begun to listen to jazz. In spite of my lack of knowledge about jazz in general and free jazz in particular, that record blew me away. I followed that up with Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come and I've never looked back.

I've only seen Mr. Taylor in concert once, on a double bill with the Art Ensemble of Chicago at The University of Houston around 1978 or 79. He had his sextet with Ronald Shannon Jackson, Ramsey Ameen, et al that recorded the two New World Records releases. The Art Ensemble went first, and I hate to admit that by the time Cecil's Unit came on stage, I was feeling the effects of a hurried trip down from S.M.U., where I was in my freshman year. Because of that, I didn't give his performance the attention it deserved. I would love to see him again. 

There's a complete sessionography for Cecil Taylor located here.

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