Friday, April 12, 2019

Cecil Taylor - Great Paris Concert (ORG Music, 2019)

Originally recorded in The City of Light during November 1966, this concert has been released on a number of labels over the years. This most recent one has been remastered by Infrasonic Mastering, and is presented across two 180 gram white color LPs, with photos and new liner notes. Regardless, it's an extraordinary entry into the great pianist Cecil Taylor's discography, including a great band featuring Jimmy Lyons on alto saxophone, Alan Silva on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums and percussion. “Student Studies Part 1” finds the group playing against type, not quite the all destroying free improvisation behemoth that they were made out to be. The music is choppy and intricate with extraordinary bass playing that when plucked provides extra propulsion to an already powerful unit, but when bowed is done in a virtuoso fashion echoing that of a viola or a cello. There is space in this performance for Lyons to blow unencumbered and he adds thoughtful notions to this powerful piece of music. This is immediately followed by “Student Studies Part 2” which keeps the energy moving briskly with swirling bowed bass and lush piano playing, alternating between crushing chords and ripping runs up and down the keyboard. The saxophone muscles in about half way through, pushing hard and helping to develop a true full band improvisation that is wonderfully exciting. “Amplitude” is the most percussion focused track on the album, with a spare opening that uses a whistle and Art Ensemble like “little instruments” to set the mood. Soon lashing drumming takes effect with booming deep end piano and saxophone yearning for release in the cracks between the harrowing energy being developed by the piano and drums, but try as Lyons might it is the stark fascinating interplay between Taylor and Cyrille that is the centerpiece of this section of the concert. Finally “Niggle Feuigle” is the track that could be called “free jazz” in the expected sense, as the four members of the group collide right off the bat for a superior blowout that is a wonder to hear, as Lyons's horn wails alarmingly and Taylor kneads the piano with a great sense of urgency. As the piece develops, the piano and percussion cascade in a magnificent fashion, creating an epic sound world that is all encompassing and unflinching in its willingness to infuse all of their power and majesty into their music. Great Paris Concert - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.