Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come by Cecil Taylor, Jimmy Lyons, and Sunny Murray.
One of the key recordings of Cecil Taylor’s career, and one of the key documents of “Free Jazz”, the concerts recorded at Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark in November of 1962 are the first recorded expressions of the true vision Taylor would pursue (and continues to pursue). Astonishing and beautiful. To have been in the audience!
Jazz Advance by Cecil Taylor, Denis Charles, Steve Lacy, and Buell Neidlinger.
Continuing my investigation into Cecil Taylor’s early work, with his recorded debut from 1956. More interesting, than compelling, you can hear Taylor is still working out his concepts. And the rest of the band is trying to figure out, “If he’s playing THAT, what do we play?” The forms, at least in terms of time, are largely respected by Taylor, but the content of his solos often strays. Lacy is primarily playing Bebop runs over the changes. And the rhythm section is keeping time and walking the chords.
Cell Walk for Celeste by Cecil Taylor with Buell Neidlinger, Denis Charles, and Archie Shepp.
A year after the “World of Cecil Taylor” sessions and the band is a lot tighter. Shepp has matured and is incorporating Taylor’s right hand melodic expressions and rhythmic motifs into his playing. Unfortunately, Taylor is saddled with a painfully out of tune piano and sits out much of this session. Two of the tracks are Bass/Sax duets. The piano issue is particularly egregious on the relatively straight forward covers of the Mercer/Ellington tune Jumpin’ Punkins with a larger band including Billy Higgins, Clark Terry, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, and Charles Davis. Unless you’re curious what it would sound like to hear Taylor playing honky tonk piano, avoid those two tracks.
The World of Cecil Taylor by Cecil Taylor, Buell Neidlinger, Sunny Murray, Denis Charles, and Archie Shepp.
Since I listened to alternate takes from the sessions for this album yesterday, I thought I should revisit the album proper today.
First, whomever picked the takes to use on the album was right. While the tracks on “Air” have their charms, these stand head and shoulders above. From Murray’s drum call to action to Cecil’s soft intro to track 2, these are invigorating, dramatic, and astounding.
Air by Cecil Taylor, Buell Neidlinger, Sunny Murray, Archie Shepp, and Denis Charles.
Recorded in 1960, this album is additional material from the sessions for, “The World of Cecil Taylor”. The first two tracks, a trio with Taylor, Neidlinger, and Murray, are finger tapping, steering wheel pounding, goodness. A 23 year old Archie Shepp joins on track 3, and at first seems a bit lost, deploying idiomatic Jazz and Blues expressions. As he settles in, and begins to find his place in the maelstrom, things get interesting. By Take 24 of “Air” he’s really getting it.
Amorphae by Ben Monder, Pete Rende, Andrew Cyrille, and Paul Motian.
This album of solos, duets, and trios from Mr Monder &Co has been on my “to listen” list for quite a while. On this release, Monder operates in roughly the same reverb and chorus drenched wide screen universe as players like Bill Frisell and David Torn. Not quite as “folksy” as Frisell and using more “classical music” inspired melody and harmony than Torn, Monder seldom “shreds”. Instead building his solos to curtains of shimmering abstract sound.
ECM has always been eclectic in it’s releases. This atmospheric mashup of Jazz, Classical, and UK Folk music isn’t exactly the exception, as the rule. June Tabor is a great folk vocalist and her partners in Quercus are Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy, Piano and Saxophone, respectively. If I had any complaints, it might be that Nightfall is just a tad too pleasant.
Most people trace the modern Soprano Sax tone, flute-like, mellow, and largely without vibrato, to the playing of Lucky Thompson. Eschewing the harsh tone and wide vibrato of early players like Bechet, Thompson set the stage for immensely commercially popular players like Grover Washington Jr and the much maligned Kenny Gorelick. Also, as far as I know, just about the only Bebop Soprano player.
A pretty strictly Bebop affair, great work here from the whole group. I think, especially, the expressive cymbal work from Connie Kay stands out.