Musical aside: Cecil Taylor’s departure

Hey there! Thanks for checking in. My blog typically focuses on writing and editing, but select events can preempt that focus. Plus, it’s still writing!

Jazz pianist and poet Cecil Taylor died yesterday. He turned 89 in March–a bonus year, perhaps, for one of the most fascinating and durable figures in jazz who came of age in the post-bop era, and treated the piano as if it were 88 tuned drums.

Just think: Taylor was born in 1929 (Queens, NY), only three years after John Coltrane’s birth, and Taylor outlived him by 40 years. I was fortunate to see Cecil Taylor with marimba, bass, and drums at Yoshi’s in Oakland around 1993, and that band was absolutely, brilliantly noisy. And swinging. The combo’s dynamics were so robust, I found the show most rewarding by listening (and watching) the virtuosi discretely, by framing my attention on Taylor first, and listening to the piano against and with the rest of the quartet, and then training my ears on the marimba, and repeating.

Perhaps his death will spur someone at A&M to make available *In Florescence* for digital purchase. It’s one of his non-canonical albums, but my absolute fave. In the meantime, here’s a video with that quartet sans bassist a couple years later.

I also dig this article by Ben Ratliff from 2012.

On a happier note, there’s a new documentary on fellow iconoclast and “general paragon of the fabulous life” Grace Jones. Yes! Here’s the trailer.

Enjoy!

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