You, me, the music, and me.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Leo Records LR 404/405 (1988)

According to the scant liner notes inside the gatefold of this double LP, Cecil Taylor's Live in Bologna was indeed recorded live in Bologna on November 3, 1987. There are no track titles; only the total time for each non-banded side is listed. Nearly all the information you need about the music is in the music.

Taylor's group (or "unit") for this album consists of William Parker on bass, Carlos Ward on reeds, Leroy Jenkins on violin, and Thurman Barker on drums, percussion, and marimba. It's an all-star cast of free jazz luminaries, and each does their part in bringing Taylor's dense, driving music to life. Live is not for the faint of heart or the avant garde neophyte; the length of the album alone is off-putting, and the sidelong tracks give the listener little opportunity to catch his or her breath. Yet Live offers a succinct encapsulation of this group's sound at a creative peak.

The music is organized mainly by groupings of instruments; players drop in and out, giving a sense of sonic variety to the proceedings while maintaining the overall momentum. For the most part, the rhythm section anchors the sound while the violin and sax share the lead with Taylor's piano. Some especially nice interplay occurs during the second half of side two, when the instruments drop out and some growling vocalisms (mostly, I suspect, courtesy of Taylor) occur low in the mix, followed by a (relatively) quiet interlude supported by Barker's marimba and tambourine. Although neophytes are recommended to check out his solo and trio work first, Live is a thick, heady mix of sound that will satisfy any adventurous listener.


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