Gigs, dance, art

April 20th, 2011: Cecil Taylor / Amiri Baraka

@cité de la musique

I was so excited about finally seeing Cecil Taylor I hadn’t noticed Amiri Baraka was there too. I’d have gone to this show for him alone, so that was an unexpected treat to say the least. Except it took me a while to realize exactly who he was. His name didn’t register until he mentioned the controversy about Somebody Blew Up America, then it all became clear. I followed that at the time, and even there are sides to his poem that I just don’t care about, most of it is a strong work, and even stronger live. It wasn’t even a highlight, his delivery is so good it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. He has a musicality and rhythm that makes beat, jazz, and hip-hop come together. My own reaction was nothing to be proud of: the reception was icy at first, and I sat frozen, I was again too much of a coward to break the silence and be the first to clap. I did that before, and I still regret it. I’m just not one of the good guys. I was hoping he’d join Cecil Taylor at some point, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

A few years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Cecil Taylor. I can only express my deepest gratitude to Scott McDowell for introducing me to his amazing body of work. And now I got to see the man play, and he’s every bit as amazing as I hoped. He has that percussive side I love on piano, but also a delicate touch at times. And he uses all the range of his instrument, sometimes playing both high and low notes, with no filler moment. It was all the time intense, and his sense of endings is flawless: each time he stopped abruptly, as if he had no time to waste winding down when he could move on to the next piece. And anyway had no patience for niceties; when he’s done, he’s done, and that’s it. This might seem weird, but it made a lot of sense with the way he’s playing, there’s no settling down for less with him. How could that be anything but a good thing? If anything, seeing him play live heightened my appreciation, and thanks to Scott’s teachings, that’s saying something.


May 2, 2011 - Posted by | Music | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s