It's fascinating to hear Cecil Taylor in his early days, with this tight rhythm section made up of bassist Buell Neidlinger and, especially, the West Indies-born drummer Dennis Charles, who had a wicked rimshot as well as a funky sense of swing. The contrast between his relentless, wandering style and their strict timekeeping is instructive, and not as frustrating as it might seem. (Later Cecil found a freer drummer, the elegant Andrew Cyrille, who would follow him through every twist and turn.) But the early Monk-like recordings, especially the Nat Hentoff-produced THE WORLD OF CECIL TAYLOR from 1960, are satisfying on their own terms. Saxophonist Archie Shepp makes two cameo (and effective) guest appearances here but the set is notable for some rare Cecil Taylor cover versions, "This Nearly Was Mine" (from SOUTH PACIFIC) and "Lazy Afternoon," which was a cabaret favorite back in the '50s. Taylor takes these at his leisure, creating small lyrical oases to linger by as he wanders through the exotic landscape of a "standard."