CECIL TAYLOR — Unit Structures (review)

CECIL TAYLOR — Unit Structures album cover Album · 1966 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
darkprinceofjazz
Cecil Taylor, you love his music or you hate it, fortunately for me, right from the beginning I dug this guys music, and 13 years plus into my modern jazz journey he still is one of the few Pianists that I really can stomach in a solo setting, Keith Jarrett really the only other one, this guy plays the piano like the drums, heavily percussive and full of ideas, this mans genus is great, Now, if you don't subscribe to the Marsalis theory, of this type of music being "self indulgent bull s#@t" then you are in the know, and likely already dig it.

Unit Structures, released in 1966 on Blue Note Records is part of a pair of mid 60's Blue Note masterpieces by Taylor, the other being Conquistador, Unit structures and much of Taylor's music is really "chamber jazz", and always feels like third stream music, classical avant garde at least. This album is an absolute classic of avant garde music, Not a whole lot of swing here, but to me, it does mean a thing, this music demands your attention, sure a few hints of classic jazz show up, especially in Jimmy Lyons alto and Ken McIntire's Tenor tone, the 2 basses of Henry Grimes and Alan Silva add quite a bit of color, not much in the pocket walking for sure, but they play as if they are lead instruments at times, it's an interesting listen, Taylor really holds my interest, with his different moods and that percussive attack, the music has a lot of peaks and valleys, plenty of the free wheeling blowing and seemingly all over the place piano, but the mood shifts remind me of some Hitchcock movie theme at times, the build up the tension and then crash it home, these are well composed and performed compositions. Is this Jazz? maybe 2%, but this is 98% something else, and that something is breathtaking to me.

I love the ominous bass clarinet of Ken McIntire on the title track, this composition starts of slow then builds into a free for all, with Taylor going insane, McIntire is really doing the job, Lyons over blows to glory on his alto, it's really hard to describe this music, you must hear it for yourself, but be warned, if you are someone who rather prefers, safe and swinging jazz, and I like that too, this is not for you, or the faint of heart.
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