STEPPING ON STARS
INTRODUCTION TO Z
Hat Hut : 1983
There is a power and weight to Cecil’s playing, a heavy energy that pervades the room while he plays. No one, not even the most negative of his critics, ever leaves a Cecil Taylor performance unimpressed by the things he can do on the piano; critic Zita Carno, for one, thought that Taylor does so much that it makes him a bad, overly busy accompanist. Others have felt Taylor’s technique runs away with him, and he should be more restrained, edit his playing more. Those listeners who have been consistently moved by the sheer density of Cecil’s playing swear by his technique as inseparable from the diverse materials and effects that are the body of his playing.
Cecil makes no such separation: “I’ve had great arguments lately with cats who wish to make all kinds of separation between form, content, and technique, but I tell them that technique isn’t anything divorced from the end product. It doesn’t matter where your technique comes from or whether it’s ‘correct’ or not. It will be correct if your music is strong.
“Monk can do things Horowitz can’t, and that’s where the validity of Monk’s music is, in his technique.
“I know some of the literature of classical piano. I’ve prepared it to the satisfaction of some people who were specialists in that. I could play Bach fugues and so could many a jazz pianist if they were interested. But they’re not interested. They’re just not interested.
“Cats say to me, ‘Well, you know Ornette doesn’t really know much about the violin.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well, he couldn’t play like Heifetz.’ We got back into that thing I thought we’d left back at the U.N. in 1958. Like in spite of Heitfetz’s great technique, he has never come up with a sound like Ornette. He has never played the music that Ornette plays on violin.”
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We’ll let the music speak for itself this time. Recorded live in Switzerland in 1981. Enjoy.
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