Cecil Taylor

At Angelica 2000 Bologna
Angelica IDA 042

Probably the closest one could get to a live Cecil Taylor concert and media conference without attending, this two-CD documents the master American pianist’s gig at Bologna’s AngelicA Festival Internazionale di Musica in 2000. While the second CD provides the audio for Franco Fabbri’s one-on-one interviewer with Taylor, which is also transcribed in the accompanying booklet, the first disc provides a captivating three-part solo performance by Taylor complete with pauses for his somewhat murky Dada-like free-verse.

When dealing with the work of Taylor (1929-2018) every outpouring is valuable. The pianist was arguably one of the most important musicians of the second half of the 20th Century in the Jazz/improvisation and noted music world,, creating sounds that fell in-between or around those poles. While 90 percent of the time he brought the same stamina and commitment to every performance, he was most personal when playing solo. Especially in later years when spoken word/poetry and idiosyncratic dance-like motion was added to his volcanic playing each show was an entity into itself.

So it is with the three improvisations. Instantly definitive textures are heard as soon as he touches the keyboard working his playing up from adagio to andante to explosive prestissimo fills. Along the way he feints, detours, crashes, expands contrasting dynamics, ejaculates kinetic waterfalls of notes, creates pounding rondos and occasionally sounds out a melodic fragment. Tones jump and judder as with supersonic speed he moves from pedal propelled basso notes to lightening quick glissandi and chorus of broken octave expositions. If there are differences among the three parts of the program it’s that the first is slower and the second more frantic and staccato. Plus there’s the bonus – or detriment – depending on your point of view of puzzling out the illusions mumbled or yelped during his breaks from playing. The entire interview CD is also a gift Taylor completists will value.

While the playing here is chillingly good and a portrait of Taylor at the top of his game, At Angelica 2000 Bologna is not a CD for someone hearing the pianist for the first time. Yet for the right listener who has followed and appreciated Taylor’s oeuvre for years this could be the perfect gift any time of the year.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: CD1: 1. Dance of All Seasons part 1 2. Dance of All Seasons Part 2 3. Dance of All Seasons 3 4/ Applause CD2: Rap: 1. Dance of All Seasons / Possessing A Door 2. The Arc of Suspension 3. No-one Has the Ownership of Pure Genius 4. Through The Devotion To Sound To Make Words 5. I Have Many People That I Bow To 6. The Ingredient of Life 7. And Then You Usually Have A Good Time 8. Montage of Meanings: No Matter What

Personnel: CD1: Cecil Taylor (piano, voice and poetry); CD2: 1-11 Cecil Taylor (voice) and Franco Fabbri (interviewer) and Montage of Meanings (montage) –track 8