March 23, 2016

Cecil Taylor - Silent Tongues (1974)


Few things are better than a solo piano album (in any genre) with a skilled and original pianist. Actually I'm not sure if anyone can really draw the line between jazz and modern classical for Silent Tongues. The angles Taylor imposes have always been reminiscent of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell, but he's obviously never quite had the swing of those pianists (except maybe a little on his 50s albums and performances). He swiftly stirs up notes like Mal Waldron, who is a fine post-bop pianist usually heard alongside Eric Dolphy, but he's more choppy and percussive. The cerebral aura in Taylor's music is most closely related to Andrew Hill, but his playing is more rushed and direct. A few months ago I posted the only known album of solo Sun Ra playing acoustic piano; he generates emotion with linear, lavish dynamics and sweeping two-hand forays. A solo Cecil Taylor effort is even more unpredictable than Sun Ra and more of a claustrophobic cacophony than almost anything else. His dynamics can range from delicate to stomping in a matter of seconds, but he manages to connect the dots and form an emotional piece. He doesn't play wild for the sake of being wild and does not lose track of his jazz roots when he launches off into the outer realms of music. It is difficult to figure out if his playing on Silent Tongues sticks close to a composition or is completely improvised, and with music as chaotic as this, that's certainly a compliment.

Sample

Silent Tongues