Personnel: Jimmy Lyons (alto saxophone); Raphe Malik (trumpet); Ramsey Ameen (violin); Cecil Taylor (piano); Sirone (bass); Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums).
Recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, New York on April 3-6, 1978. Includes liner notes by Spencer Richards and Ramsey Ameen.
Composer: Cecil Taylor.
Personnel: Cecil Taylor (piano); Ramsey Ameen (violin); Jimmy Lyons (alto saxophone); Raphe Malik (trumpet); Ronald Shannon Jackson (drums).
Audio Mixer: Don Puluse.
Liner Note Authors: Spencer Richards; Ramsey Ameen.
Recording information: Columbia Recording Studios, NY (04/03/1978-04/06/1978).
Editor: Don Puluse.
Although Cecil Taylor's music has been categorized as free jazz or free improvisation, in fact he has always carefully directed his ensembles, both verbally and with his idiosyncratic notation. In 1978, he recorded one of those ensembles over a four-day period, and two albums resulted from the process. THE CECIL TAYLOR UNIT was the first to be released. The only long-time Taylor alumnus here is alto saxophonist Jimmy Lyons. Raphe Malik and Ramsey Ameen were new to Taylor's band, as was Ronald Shannon Jackson.
It's a very distinctive, successful unit--alive, humorous, dramatic, unbelievably intense. Jackson's drumming shapes the music. He plays with grooves, counter-rhythms and silences, and brings a strong directionality to Taylor's pieces. The combination of Ameen on violin and Sirone (who mostly bows his upright bass) reminds the listener of 19th century chamber music. Taylor's piano playing redefines the possibilities of the instrument, pulling chords and chaos out of the air. The three compositions here are remarkable in the balance they achieve between structure and spontaneity. There are many, many highlights, but be warned--this is not casual music. Sometimes lush, sometimes primal, sometimes harsh, it is a language all its own, and as such, speaks powerful truths.