Plant Beds Of Adni
A piece of lost Cecil Taylor music I'd love to hear...
As some readers know, Cecil Taylor’s 1978 Unit — with Jimmy Lyons on alto sax, Raphé Malik on trumpet, Ramsey Ameen on violin, Sirone on bass, and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums — is possibly my favorite of his groups. The work they did on the albums The Cecil Taylor Unit, 3 Phasis, Live in the Black Forest and One Too Many Salty Swift and Not Goodbye stands out as some of the most overtly composed and arranged, and some of the most uniquely beautiful, in his entire catalog, in large part due to the individual voices of the members, particularly Ameen.
In researching In the Brewing Luminous: The Life & Music of Cecil Taylor, I’ve come across an article that sheds a tiny bit of light on this group’s activities. It’s a review of a performance they gave at the Whitney Museum on Thursday, April 20, 1978, as part of the “Composer’s Showcase” series. (Taylor was part of a few of these concerts; on one occasion, he was co-billed with Mary Lou Williams, several years before their famous/infamous duo concert at Carnegie Hall.)
The piece was by John S. Wilson, published in the New York Times, where he wrote from 1952 to 1994, the paper’s first regularly published jazz and pop music critic. Wilson, who was born in Elizabeth, NJ, the town where I lived for almost 30 years (also the home of saxophonist Hank Mobley, by the way; someone should put up a plaque), covered Taylor extensively in the Times from the 1950s to the 1980s. (At a certain point, other writers, notably Robert Palmer, Jon Pareles and Ben Ratliff, began writing about Taylor.) Wilson died in 2002.
Anyway, the article is of great interest to me because it describes a piece which does not appear on any of the sextet Unit’s albums. You could say, well, maybe it’s out there but under another title — Taylor re-used melodies and structures and changed titles at times. But I don’t think so. I’ve listened to those albums, and a few choice live bootlegs, a lot, and the music Wilson describes doesn’t ring any bells with me. So I’m going to reproduce the full text of the article below the paywall, so you can join me in pining for this lost piece of Cecil Taylor music.
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