Sunday, September 10, 2006

Here Goes

We do not know about blogging, and so we blog. Further proof for the weary that we don't have to know how to do something in order to do it. The Unreliable Narrator set this crazy thing up for me as a present for my 45th birthday. What is this thing? One of 25 million or more blogs on Al Gore's info superhighway. I picture myself wandering through the massed population of LA County mumbling to myself about Cecil Taylor.

Speaking of whom, listened to most of One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye for the first time in a long time this morning. (Prompted by certain comments at indicating a preference for CT's solo piano performances over his ensemble work). What struck me most was how it takes more than an hour for Lyons and Malik to enter (already after a series of solos and duets that are not included on the Hat Art lp, but are on the CD), and their brief intertwining lines segue immediately into a Malik solo. Also jumped out at me how wily Shannon Jackson was, how resourceful and what a formidable foil for Taylor's excursions.

Having caught a Ruth Zaporah show last night here in Santa Fe at CCA, I'm thinking about improvisation. "Form is possibility," said Taylor many years ago. Zaporah's arena is her Action Theater, which uses as its seed a gesture or movement. She was electrifying, further proof that improvisation need not meander, fall flat, lack form. I read somehwere on the internet someone's opinion that Keith Jarrett's "American Quartet" captured a kind of freedom within structure, unlike "Andrew Hill or Cecil Taylor, who were willing to let everything go." How could anyone's ears make a distinction like that? It's why, if "jazz" is not a terrible enough term, "free jazz" is perhaps the worst of the worst. If you have a relationship with your materials, your body, and your instrument, as Taylor also pointed out many years ago, form will arise out of the activity itself. If you can't hear the structures in Taylor's music (let alone Andrew Hill's!) we respectfully submit that your ears are a mess, not the music.

Anyway, why would a common preference be for Cecil Taylor's solo piano work rather than his ensemble performances? Pondering, pondering. What is the difference between the aesthetics of the two? I'll be listening and maybe offering some ideas. One thing is for certain: Cecil Taylor's "unit" recordings from various periods absolutely kick ass, representing the art of improvisation in all of its sustained, fluid beauty. The statements of Jimmy Lyons alone are, without exception, worth the price of every CD he's on.

Speaking of CDs- Ornette Coleman's got his first new one in 10 years coming out Tuesday, 9/12. Called Sound Grammar. No word yet whether or not Bush will declare a National Holiday.

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