Cecil Taylor

From Academic Kids

Cecil Percival Taylor (born March 15, 1929) is a pianist (and poet) now generally acknowledged to be one of the great innovative sources of free jazz (along with the better known Ornette Coleman). His first recording Jazz Advance was released in 1956, and is described by Cook & Morton in the Penguin Guide to Jazz: "While there are still many nods to conventional post-bop form in this set, it already points to the freedoms which the pianist would later immerse himself in".

Taylor is known for being an extremely energetic, physical player, producing exceedingly complex improvised sounds. He has worked with musicians such as the saxophonists Steve Lacy, John Coltrane and Archie Shepp and the bassist William Parker. However the greatest part of his musical development occurred in the company of alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons (from 1961 until Lyons' death in 1986) and drummers Sunny Murray and then Andrew Cyrille. Within that group, the musicians developed often volcanic new forms of conversational interplay. From the early 1970s onwards, Taylor also began to find increasing opportunities for solo piano performance.

After Lyons' death Taylor has often returned to a smaller trio format, notably his trio from the early 1990s with William Parker and Tony Oxley. He has also been led a number of big-band projects and larger ensembles. His visit to Berlin in 1988 was extensively documented by the German label FMP, resulting in a massive boxed set of performances in duet and trio with a who's who of European free improvisors, including Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Han Bennink, Tristan Honsinger and many others. More recently he has been touring with Oxley and trumpeter Bill Dixon. Most of his recordings for the past decades have been released by small European labels, with the exception of the unexpected release of Momentum Space (a meeting with Dewey Redman and Elvin Jones) on Verve/Gitanes. The classical label Bridge recently released his 1998 Library of Congress performance Algonquin, a duet with violinist Mat Maneri.

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