Amoeblog

A CRY For CECIL TAYLOR, My Avant Gardfather, 1929-2018

Posted by Rick Frystak, May 8, 2019 07:57pm | Post a Comment

Photo by unknown/illustration by Rick Frystak
 

Welcome back to The Choice Bin. It's 1973, UCLA's Royce Hall, a few notches up from what it is today satus-wise as there just weren't many halls to showcase serious music in '73. Big deal anytime or place, these artists in L.A. then, (like say, Stevie Wonder) so the town was abuzz. Cecil Taylor is here to play a solo piano recital. Lee has Rhino stocked. Lingerers linger. Jivers jive. Clowns clown. There's a festival vibe, it was called Newport Jazz Fest west or whatever. This night is just Cecil.

The concert begins. Each note, chord harmony, repetition, arpeggio, triad, cluster, question-and-answer; a sensation of logic and emotion. To some,''noise''. This man went to the New York Conservatory. Cecil is here in UCLA playing a huge 10-foot Bosendorfer piano and the paint is already coming off the walls. Folks are on the edge of their seats.

OMG, it's Cecil my main man, my idol in the ''out'' music. I have "all" his albums. I'm in the SAME ROOM with him! Tonight, Cecil has come from a whisper (he hadn't begun dancing out to the piano yet) to a brilliantly built mountain of sound.

It's getting more and more and more intense when all of a sudden, a man sitting almost dead-center STANDS UP,TAKES OFF HIS SHIRT and begins dancing and...YELLING!! I couldn't believe what I was seeing for a split second, but then that same feeling came over me, but I stayed in my seat. It was like a shot of adrenaline, more exciting than ANYTHING I'd ever heard, right then and there...the physical manifestation of the sounds we were hearing, driving us to yelling!

Some critics were not impressed. “Anyone working with a jackhammer could have achieved the same results,” wrote jazz critic Leonard Feather, in the L.A. Times.

Mr. Taylor left this planet one year ago this month. Cecil was respected around the world, winning grants and receiving fellowships year after year. In 2013 Cecil received the Kyoto Prize, a huge honor in Japan, equivalent to a MacArthur Genius Award. (Cecil is a past recipient of the MacArthur award). Alas, the Kyoto Prize, which amounted to $500,000, was embezzled and swindled from Cecil by a man posing as Cecil's business manager. Leonard Feather should have known that jackhammer operators don't usually receive half-million-dollar cash awards from foreign countries. Leonard had what is known as a,"chip on his shoulder" regarding music such as Taylor's, and the avant garde in general, but the Los Angeles Times dug his jazz criticism for many, many years, for their own reasons. Mr. Taylor had a huge impression on my own appreciation of music and all art, especially the avant garde that was outside the mainstream. I still get a flash of inspiration when I see even his photograph.

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An Other 'Best Music of 2016' List

Posted by Rick Frystak, December 31, 2016 01:45pm | Post a Comment

 


by Rick Frystak


Here in The Choice Bin, the wealth of superior new music that I get to be exposed to is just staggering.
The wealth of music around this whole planet is astounding, limited only by one's desires, with each new release or deep-dug reissue a shiny object for us to be drawn to. Walk into an Amoeba, an indie record store or check into some genre-specific internet radio and real college radio and you'll know what I mean. And this year was no exception for those who actively seek out new and old sounds and enjoy doing so.

As a youth I was glued to my AM and then FM radio, listening to Rock, Soul, Jazz and 20th Century Classical revelation. Some hosts would even compare hi-fi gear live on the air, using the latest LP cuts. We waited impatiently for stuff we'd heard to arrive at the 3 or 4 record stores in the vicinity. Then I rode to the record shop and bought my favorites, back then in mono for $1 cheaper, and later driving into Westwood for some small-label LP or expensive import that was a must-have. 

With the passing of many of our heroes so devastating, each moment of immersing oneself in their language and legacy is a precious one. And of course, there are the highly talented younger artists that bring a fresh, but well-informed element to their work and sometimes usher in new eras. Compelling, unfamiliar music seems to be discovered by me daily. Then to hear someone say, ''...nothing's happening musically now'', just sounds goofy. 

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David S. Ware's Surrendered: killer jazz quartet's languishing gem

Posted by Mark Beaver, August 26, 2008 02:40pm | Post a Comment

I have to say that I do understand how an album as solid as Surrendered could get lost in the shuffle. David S. Ware has been recording under his own name since 1988, and in groups led by legendary names like Cecil Taylor, Andrew Cyrille and Barry Harris since the early 70's. In these last 20 years of releases under his own name, Ware has released about an album per year. So, where to start? And what are the chances that an album or two might slip through the cracks and end up in Amoeba's Clearance section?

Ware is considered by many to be a technical (and perhaps theological) descendant of John Coltrane. His tenor is big and brash, in a mold not unlike Pharaoh Sanders, Arthur Blythe or Archie Shepp. His facility is masterful, never neglecting the changes and yet pushing and pulling at the melodic core of the composition. He plays the whole range: he dives off the pier and swims far enough from shore to nurture tension, but he never lets go of his lifeline-- the strong melody within a strong composition. In fact, that's what pulls me to Ware over and over again. His albums are always so full of real composition. Songs are what he and his teams bring to the table, in this case, the killer quartet made up of pianist Matthew Shipp, percussionist Guillermo Brown, and a man I consider to be essential listening any and every time one has the chance, bassist William Parker.

Surrendered starts strongly with a tone poem of sorts called "Peace Celestial." Matthew Shipp holds the core of the piece with piano meditations conjuring Bill Evans or Keith Jarrett at his more internal. "Sweet Georgia Bright" follows, and is the album's most traditional "bop" composition, and it's the lesser for it. This quartet's strength is in the idiom of the post-Coltrane continuum. Tracks like the aforementioned opener, "Theme of Ages," the loping title track with its slow, even build reminiscent of Charles Lloyd's "Night-Blooming Jasmine," and even, to a great extent, "Glorified Calypso," tour that greater territory of improvisational and textural possibilities that the legendary Art Ensemble of Chicago liked to refer to as, "Great Black Music," rather than bind it within the limits and collected baggage of the term "jazz."

In any case, Surrendered has enough within it of depth, beauty and mastery of ensemble communication to qualify as another pearl from the great sea of red.