Muhal Richard Abrams – Cecil Taylor

These reports have been stalled behind massive sand-berms, flattened castles, toppled turrets…the Taylor one as I was waiting on a specialist to deliver a more punctilious exergete, which never showed-up, & the Muhal affair because I was so vexed at the loss of a well executed & adulatory review that had just been comprised (I failed to transfer it ‘successfully’ to a USB on a proxy computer, where the original was then deleted) >< . two pianists, one year either side (birth/death) & one premonition –

Cecil Taylor (1929-2018). Proverbial screw-loose & a phantom mensch that strode the molten-cracks. Unrestrained, heteronmous, torrential, dual-caliber, an abandon of unchained exclamation. A considerable differentiation with Taylor, is that he allowed/fell host to the possessive powers of the Avant/Outback/Off-Rd. It was not just the performance & the material, but the shit streamed-off the subject in every day life.. he lived & was a breathing embodiment the nocturne wayward . Not too many like that, way to much professionalism, muzzling, tranqulization. It’s a wonder that Talyor vaulted to such eminence, & many of the shit-shillers that have filed out to pay public tribute in commercial columns posthumous do so only as their credibility will be tarred should they fail to conspicuously demonstrate vocal appreciation for a figure that actually terrifies them. A lot of his releases suffer from poor personnel, or counterparts that just can’t compliment/compete with the mans mantics. I still think that by far one of the best recordings captured & issued by Taylor is the Nuits de la Foundation Maeght series (x3 LP’s) from 1969, scavenged from concerts in France, with Sam Rivers, Andrew Cyrille & Jimmy Lyons. There was two editions, but the most prolific seems to be the Shandar version.

Cecil Taylor.

Muhal Richard Abrams (1930-2017). This took ages, as I had written, then subsequently lost, a review of Muhals brilliant ‘Levels and Degrees of Light’ LP (a genuine free jazz classic) after yards of deliberation (on what album of his to review first). Oddly, it had been on the cards for aeons, & after finally taking decisive action & scrawling the review, a call comes through from a fellow AACM member informing of his demise! Abrams was either the founding member or, one of the core, initial founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, a radical & recondite conventicle that yomped out of Chicago in the mid 60’s & seared an indelible mark on the Jazz/Improvised ambit. He did a sprawl of very’ very intriguing, sometimes brilliant, conceptually particular & unique albums over six decades. Much of Muhals work has a very’ very particular energy & often has this benign, graceful lassitude that’s really quite distinctive. Despite garble galore, volumes of weirdness & exigent experimentalism, there is a reigning conviviality in pretty much all of his material.

Muhal Richard Abrams.