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Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor is an NEA Jazz Master ”One of my wishes has been realized. I found love. It was difficult, but I found it. Because when Billy Holiday sang, “You don‘t know what love is,” great singers will tell you… it‘s a partnership. It‘s a sharing”....—-Cecil Taylor November 10, 2010

“Practice, to be studious at the instrument, as well as looking at a bridge, or dancing, or writing a poem, or reading, or attempting to make your home more beautiful. What goes into an improvisation is what goes into one's preparation, then allowing the prepared senses to execute at the highest level devoid of psychological or logical interference. You ask, without logic, where does the form come from? It seems something that may be forgotten is that as we begin our day and proceed through it there is a form in existence that we create out of, that the day and night itself is for. And what we choose to vary in the daily routine provides in itself the fresh building blocks to construct a living form which is easily translated into a specific act of making a musical composition.” - Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor has been an uncompromising creative force who is a testament to his own existence and personal experience since his earliest recordings in the 1950's. In the 1960's, his music would become a leading exponent, along with that of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, of the budding “free-jazz” movement. This movement shook the very foundations on which jazz music was securely resting and marks a major turning point in the history of the music that challenged the structures of form and the tonal harmonic system. Taylor has said of his characteristic rhythmic playing that he tries “to imitate on the piano the leaps in space a dancer makes” and his orchestral facility on the piano has allowed him to innovate new musical textures in small ensemble performance. Taylor's playing has always been technically sophisticated, but as he once said, “technique is a weapon to do whatever must be done”.† The personnel in his bands over his almost five decades in jazz comprises a list of astounding talent including: Steve Lacy, Jimmy Lyons, Albert Ayler, Buell Neidlinger, Dennis Charles, Archie Shepp, William Parker, Max Roach, Tony Williams, Mark Helias, Mary Lou Williams, and Bill Dixon. Additionally, he has worked with several notable dancers and choreographers including composing music for Diane McIntyre, Mikhail Barishnokov, and Heather Watts.

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