106CD - Cecil Taylor & Tony Oxley - Being Astral And All Registers / Power Of Two

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Description

Cecil Taylor - piano
Tony Oxley - drums

 

A live (first class quality) recording of the duo from 2002 - from the personal archives of Tony Oxley.

"With the turn of the Millennium American pianist Cecil Taylor halted his recording activity almost entirely, but continued to play concerts for another decade or so, many of which were recorded. That last decade of his musical activity is almost completely defined by the performances in a duo setting with the British percussionist Tony Oxley, with whom Taylor had a long-standing collaboration since the 1980s when his activities moved to Europe, some of which were released in the years that followed.

The musical synergy between Taylor and Oxley is one of the most natural and artistically fulfilling manifestations of the "Art of the Duo" idiom. After all these two musicians share many common qualities: they are revolutionaries, pioneers, visionaries and free spirits, who expanded the realms of music perhaps more significantly than is commonly acknowledged. It is not only what they managed to create over the years but also how they did it: boldly, uncompromisingly, and above all consistently.

There are many reasons why Taylor and Oxley fit together so well, speak the same musical language and communicate telepathically. Taylor's playing was always associated with the characteristic percussive polyrhythmic attack on the piano, which is well complemented by the multitude of drumming paraphernalia used by Oxley during his recordings / performances in order to create a kaleidoscope of not only rhythms but notes as well. This "exchange" of roles, i.e. drumming on the piano and playing on the drums is what bonds them so well together.

This album is a perfect continuation to the reissue of the "February Papers" album by Tony Oxley, released earlier this year on Discus Music, bringing some of the most ambitious and significant music on this planet to the connoisseurs, always ready to enjoy it to the last drop."

 - Adam Baruch, October 2020 

 

Photo of Cecil Taylor courtesy of Dagmar Gebers.

Reviews

Taken from the personal archives of UK drummer/percussionist Tony Oxley, this extremely well recorded duo session with frequent collaborator, iconoclastic NY pianist Cecil Taylor, are heard in a live performance at the Ulrichsberg Festival, Austria in 2002 for a brilliantly frenetic and masterfully controlled, creative set of two jaw-dropping extended dialogs. – SQUID’S EAR

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While piano / drum pairings are not that uncommon, Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley practically wrote the book on how to do so with frenetic energy to spare. They collaborated for nearly 30 years, quite frequently as a duo in the early 2000’s. This 2002 recording, from the personal archives of Oxley and apparently unreleased until now, has both in rare form.

 

Taylor’s percussive style dovetails nicely with Oxley’s jagged rhythms and staggered improvisations. In particular, Taylor’s lines resemble those of a player piano at speed, while Oxley’s cymbal-heavy, hammering approach could easily be mistaken for two or three percussionists. The pair engage in a feverish dialog which rarely lets up across the 33 minutes of Being Astral And All Registers. These relentless walls of notes are complex, manic, and pure joy. Power Of Two slows down and takes a more textural angle, at least during the initial part of its 26 minutes, with more space in Taylor’s powerful chording and Oxley somewhat restrained. Nonetheless, these two cannot hold themselves back and the piece progresses into an endless array of angular and clustered patterns.

 

Notably, Taylor was in his early 70’s when these performances were recorded, and Oxley was only about a decade younger. But they play with the energy and drive of musicians half their age. Indeed, this workout would give anyone a challenge, including the listener.  - AMN Reviews https://avantmusicnews.com/

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Dating back to May 2002, a live recording made at the Ulrichsberg festival in Austria and until now seemingly unreleased, certainly a must and not only for free-jazz appreciators because Cecil Taylor changed jazz and even anticipated Ornette Coleman's free-jazz revolution and his innovations are more of relevance than ever in terms of combatting inertia and actually continuing to gain a better understanding of what free improvisation can sound like in a fully conceived form. (Also of interest in terms of current releases although more on the spoken word and poetry side of Taylor's work and no way nearly as compelling is the issuing of the earlier At Angelica 2000 Bologna.)

 

The realisation remains after listening that the pianist-innovator's music is still more advanced than nearly everything around all these years on. Jazz Advance by his standards a very old fashioned record, but anything but, was only the beginning in 1956. Taylor, who died two years ago, also possessed that sheer grandeur and stateliness that only a few of the greatest pianists (Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sun Ra, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett) ever exhibited and which means that in all their cases their artistic vision is so vast that pianism is only a part of its totality.

 

All jazz listeners and musicians are still catching up with the scale of Taylor's achievements. We as a world community may never be able to ever grasp all that he has to offer. Taylor is in duo on these two extensive improvisations with one of his most empathetic and longstanding drummer collaborators, the Englishman Tony Oxley whose open, spacious approach is remarkable. Full on and intense but that is only one part of the effect on ……. Being Astral And All Registers / Power Of Two…… because Taylor smashes through to another space entirely, his extensive use of abstraction populating a saturated canvas alert and ready to transform in a maximalist way depending on the way he directs the light to shine on each note and passage. That light means revelation upon revelation. - MARLBANK  https://www.marlbank.net/

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Cecil Taylor et Tony Oxley ont été réunis en 1988 dans le gigantesque projet de concerts à Berlin dont le label FMP a publié une collection impressionnante de duos, un trio et deux grands orchestres initiant la plus importante collaboration de « l’inventeur du free-jazz » avec une compagnie discographique. De cette série berlinoise mémorable, s’est développée l’association la plus durable de Cecil Taylor avec un musicien après la disparition de Jimmy Lyons. Suite au duo historique de Palm Leaf Hand (FMP) de 1988, Taylor et Oxley se sont produits fréquemment dans le Feel Trio avec le contrebassiste William Parker (The Feel Trio : Looking et Celebrated Blazons) durant les années 90 et puis en duo. Depuis le décès de Cecil, sont parus trois albums réunissant les deux musiciens sur les labels jazzwerkstatt (Conversations with T.O.), Fundacja Sluchak (Birdland Neuburg 2011) et maintenant chez Discus, grâce à Tony Oxley et Martin Archer. La pochette de … being astral and all registers – power of two… est ornée de fragments de tableaux d’Oxley qui évoquent à la fois le Thelonious Monk de Victor Brauner figurant sur la pochette d’Only Monk de Steve Lacy et les œuvres du peintre Alan Davie avec qui Oxley a souvent joué et gravé un inoubliable duo (Alan Davie Music Workshop 005 réédité en cd par a/l/l il y a presque vingt ans). Alan Davie lui a instillé le déclic pour se mettre à la peinture.


La caractéristique fondamentale du travail de Cecil Taylor avec les batteurs successifs depuis Sunny Murray est à la fois un challenge et une complémentarité organique dans le jeu « libre » avec une profonde adéquation entre la pratique du jeu pianistique et celle de la batterie. Le tandem avec Andrew Cyrille reste dans toutes les mémoires, il y eut aussi Marc Edwards, Beaver Harris, Shannon Jackson, Rashid Baker, Thurman Barker… quand, soudainement, la présence de Tony Oxley a introduit d’autres paramètres inspirés par la musique contemporaine d’avant-garde. Il y a la volonté d’exprimer des contrastes abrupts, de briser les symétries, de diversifier les sources sonores et d’instaurer des disruptions centrifuges. Le rôle du hi-hat, de la caisse claire et de la cymbale ride qui servaient aux batteurs tayloriens à moduler et propulser le flux de la « danse dans l’espace » du pianiste s’est mué dans une transposition de la hiérarchie des éléments de la batterie et des frappes dans un no-man’s land moins prévisible, presqu’aléatoire tout aussi excitant et ô combien singulier ! Deux longues constructions communes s’étalent en contractant le temps et le sentiment de durée (… being astral and all registers …. : 33 minutes et power of two…. : 26 minutes 46 secondes). Dans cet opus titanesque, le batteur n’hésite pas à se faire très discret en fouettant légèrement ses cymbales et mettant quelques coups épars sur un woodblock ou un crotale cristallin dans une atmosphère plus intimiste. Il y a une réelle frénésie dans le jeu d’Oxley même quand ses alliages de timbres rares ne haussent pas le ton : il suggère la vitesse supersonique désarticulant les fondements des arcs fulgurants tracés par Taylor dans l’espace : les doigtés se contractent, se chevauchent et démultiplient dans un chant percussif explosif qui contracte inexorablement le temps. Chaque séquence de déflagrations d’énergie rencontre son pendant de drame au bord du gouffre : les silences naissent entre les touchers espacés qui font frémir les câbles et la carcasse du grand piano. Les éléments métalliques du kit oxleyien murmurent, parties intégrantse du silence taylorien et détails sonores minutieux de gestes précis à l’écoute anticipative de l’orage qui ne va pas tarder à gronder. Les incantations au clavier appellent progressivement les méandres fastueux d’un ballet jupitérien, les accessoires percussifs se soulèvent et résonnent sous la force tellurique des avant-bras, poignets, épaules et phalanges olympiennes de l’oracle du piano. Il y a autant de retenue dans la débauche d’énergies que d’explosions exacerbées. Par enchantement, les duettistes font durer et métamorphoser la surprise jusqu’au bout, créant ainsi le concept de certitude aléatoire, en laissant se développer des canevas mélodiques clairsemés dans un enchaînement impromptu de miniatures, retenant jusqu’au bout la combustion rituelle escamotée ici pour un jeu purement introspectif et cela jusqu’à la dernière note. Cecil Taylor a parsemé son cheminement créatif de chefs d’œuvre enregistrés : Looking Ahead, D Trad, What’s That?, Nefertiti, Conquistador, Student’s Studies, Indent, Silent Tongues, One Too Many Swift, Olim, The Tree Of Life … On doit absolument ajouter à cette liste ces deux derniers duos avec Tony Oxley, soit le Birdland Neuburg 2011, magnifiquement aéré et épuré et ce Live At Ulrichsberg Festival 2002. Ils s’imposent comme les offrandes ultimes à son fidèle public et autant qu’à ceux qui seraient amenés à découvrir son art pour la première fois. Tous auront droit au meilleur de Cecil Taylor … et de Tony Oxley !   – Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg     https://orynx-improvandsounds.blogspot.com/2020/12/derek-bailey-mototeru-takagi-pascal.html

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