Gardening (By Strategy)

Cecil Taylor
Hat Hut : 1983

CT, piano.

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.”

–From Four Lives in the Bebop Business by A. B. Spellman

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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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Category Cecil Taylor

7 Responses to Gardening (By Strategy)

  1. Synchronicity. New Cecil Taylor thread at Recent post on my blog advocating for more Tayor at Behearer.

    Garden (called The Garden, wrongly, at Behearer; called Garden, Pt. 2 at Taylor’s website) was the first emergence on record of some new Taylor vocabulary. Especially, articulated two-hand lines often mirrored; the left hand runs down, the right up. Check it out especially at 1:30 and 3:30 or so in Stepping On Stars. Generally, much different textural, harmonic and thematic feel from Indent or Silent Tongues. Percussive splatters, monolithic clusters, ballad-like passages, articulated lines alternate at lightning contrast.

    That’s all I remember. the stele stolen and broken is reclaimed…

  2. Garden! Probably my favorite CT album(s)… hopefully it will resurface again on CD someday…

    In addition to the epic and incredible music itself, the recording quality is phenomenal — probably the best sounding live solo piano CD I’ve ever heard.

  3. Garden is up at ebay for $25 starting bid, the lp box from HatArt. There’s some other interesting CT stuff up there too. Good thing my credit cards are already maxed…


    Is the essay I promised you all, especially musicians on enlightened Jazz Advocacy.

    As for lost releases, the labels, especially the majors tend to be imbeciles. I knew many of the Euro Label owners like Eulinger from Hat Hut. They put out impressive stuff but are self important crackpots.

    Nowadays you can easily do production on demand as Cuscuna does. You have cd blanks and artwork ready and when a customer orders Garden, you just burn, label and ship on the spot or you offer a pay to download option.

    We have the technology but music biz assholes are hidebound fossils.

  5. The solo album before Garden , Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! Fly! is his most accessible.

    It has never been released on CD. The longest piece is about 8 minutes and each song is a unique motif.

    When I picked up a vinyl copy I was astonished how good that record is.

  6. SUMMER RE-UP: Alone in Tokyo at 2:30 am

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