June 2007

Cecil Taylor Words & Solo Piano
presented by Gary Topp & CKLN 88.1
June 1, 2007 Jane Mallett Theatre Toronto
A note-by-note fadeout
by David Fujino
Cecil Taylor entered from stage right, carrying a thick pile of music manuscript paper.

He looked like a dancer or someone working out at a celebrity gym, dressed as he was in white dance shoes and burnt orange silk pantaloons, a white tank top, a sheer black stocking cap, and chunky gold necklace.

Clearly moved by our greeting, Taylor stepped to the bass end of the piano and shyly accepted our steady applause. I couldn't get over how fit he looked and how shy he really was.

Without much ado, Mr. Taylor sat down at the piano and deposited the thick pile of music on its stand. He would consult a couple of pages, and then begin a piece. He never looked at the pages again.

Taylor's bass figures had a floating, abstracted (boogie woogie) quality. His right hand spoke in clusters of highly vocalized call-and-response patterns as well as sudden sweeps, hammers, and exquisite plucks.

Cecil Taylor Solo by Jeff Schlanger
But consider: tonight it was Cecil Taylor — stripped bare — playing solo piano — with the added treat of one of his poetry performances.

When he began reading, he performed a flourish of dance pliés (dance has been a long time interest of his). He then changed the volume levels of his reading voice, and often spoke his words breathlessly, but kept pulling us in with his highly creative blend of 'nonsense' sounds and language like, "the magnetized, the magnetic ..."

A sense of history and occasion was in the air because Cecil Taylor hasn't performed in Toronto in at least 20 years? I'm guessing.

Born in 1933, he is a master musician, a virtuoso, a visionary, and it seems, a shy and highly motivated, hard working, incredibly gifted man.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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