Monday, October 10, 2005

Tony and Cecil...

These are two radical tracks – one by the Cecil Taylor group in 1966, the other by a sextet led by Tony Oxley in 1970. One is American, the other English/European. Two different visions – yet they cross and coincide as much as they divurge. Many of the musicians on these two pieces were to play with each other – Parker, Bailey, Oxley all played with Cecil Taylor at various later dates, for example. In fact, last year at the London Jazz Festival, Cecil, Oxley and Bill Dixon played on a memorable gig, solo and together. The Oxley track is listed as one of four 'compositions' and the Taylor track has obvious arranged sections – yet both display wild free-blowing improvised extensions of the jazz tradition and the organic grafting on 'European' modern classical influences - atonality/polytonality etc. Modern chamber music? Hardly the lettuce-limp sonorites of Third-Stream...There is still a bite and a grip to these sessions – after 35 – 40 years, no mean achievement. Jimmy Lyons shows a growing maturity in his ability to get inside Taylor's music, Dixon is laid back and lyrical, the two bass line up an interesting rhythmic/tonal remove from the two basses on the earlier Coltrane post I put up. And the drums of Andrew Cyrille display another fascinating take on the rhythm strategies of the 'New Thing' – compare and contrast to Sunny Murray on my earlier Taylor post. Taylor, as usual, stomps all over the music – modernist stride?

'Scintilla' opens with a slow, poignant, fragmented duet by trombone and guitar until the other instruments edge their way in -the line here is much more fragmented – not that Taylor is any less dissonant/atonal but there are two distinct rhythmic scenarios going on here- as the Oxley track builds through written and improvised sections it starts to take off – interestingly, the yips and yelps of Wheeler sound in parts more radical than Bill Dixon's more understated playing. As Parker plays and the other two horns drop out they come as near to 'jazz' as they are going to – a longer rhythmic line playing behind – led by Parker as the other instruments come back in to the growing storm. Until they end on quiet and slow horns and bass long notes

Cyrille seems to be playing a long line all the way through – even as fragments and clusters are sounded his playing holds them all into a higher solution of rhythm. Oxley seems to scuttle across rhythms more – marking a pointillist method not so far from some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's more 'European' pieces maybe and mirroring the other instruments rather than framing them... From the middle sixties onwards, European jazz was staking its claims via the avant – garde to its own original methodologies and trying to escape the African-American shadow in varying degrees. Some of these solutions are displayed on Oxley's track. Also interesting to note is that Bailey and Parker had already forged their unique styles – Parker more obviously out of Jazz (and Coltrane) than Bailey who seems to have sprung freshly born from the head of Anton Webern at his most oblique...

The musicians on the Oxley piece are: Tony Oxley – drums/Derek Bailey – guitar/Evan Parker – saxes/Kenny Wheeler – trumpet/Jeff Clyne – bass/Paul Rutherford – Trombone.

The musicians on the Cecil Taylor piece are – Cecil Taylor – piano/Bill Dixon – trumpet/Jimmy Lyons – Alto sax/Alan Silva, Henry Grimes – bass/Andrew Cyrille – drums.

Download -

scintilla mp3
8.31 mb


conquistador mp3 16.37mb


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