Personnel: Cecil Taylor (piano, bells); Ken McIntyre (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, oboe); Jimmy Lyons (alto saxophone); Eddie Gale Stevens Jr. (trumpet); Alan Silva, Henry Grimes (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on May 19, 1966. Includes liner notes by Cecil Taylor.
One of the most important albums of the 1960s free-jazz movement, UNIT STRUCTURES is an exemplary document of advanced musical conception and fiercely intense improvisation. Cecil Taylor had been working as a pianist, composer, bandleader, and iconoclast since the mid-'50s, with an increasing allegiance to radical, atonal music; his innovations kept pace with (and, in many cases, preceded) those of contemporaries like Ornette Coleman. The influence of modern classical music (the dramatic, fragmentary scores of Stravinsky, for example) plays heavily in Taylor's vision. The presence of oboe, bass clarinet, and bells on UNIT STRUCTURES (in addition to trumpet, alto sax, and a standard rhythm section) highlights the parallel.
As a pianist, Taylor specializes in violent, rapid-fire chord clusters, churning up clouds of sound with machine gun-like rapidity. His lengthy compositions have a dynamic ebb and flow, weaving a tapestry of voice-like cries and phrases that build in tension before exploding in a cacophonous frenzy. For all its turbulence, UNIT STRUCTURES is perfectly balanced, revealing interlocking parts that make good on the album's title. A certified free-jazz classic, UNIT STRUCTURES is a must for anyone remotely interested in the style.