Thursday, November 25, 2010

Outside in the cold distance...

...the conjureman appears. We witnessed Cecil Taylor (@ the French Embassy of all places) in his recent stopover here in the Diamond. His magic was most powerful that night in the form of spellcasting spoken words, which was not what we expected.

As a man he has diminished some, though he never took the form of a giant. We might have perceived it wrong then, but not now. This was a simple recital and our senses did not play tricks on us.

He worked the piano, mainly from left to right, tempting us to think about form and improvisation. Those temptations were fair, earned and fulfilled. That's the way he has worked from the start. He could inhabit a form with force and tear it up from the inside, then tear his way back into it. And that is the way he played the piano.

But the remarkable moment in the night's show occurred when he took up a notebook in one hand and the mic in the other. He mumbled, reiterated and stuttered, thissed his thats (like a Gorgon, fosho), and shuffled the small stage like Monk looking for his drink @ the Bluenote. He held the mic like a wand, and rarely put it to his lips, because he understands the importance of amplification as a variable and the importance of variation when calling up the spirits.

We're recalling. The show is behind us a couple of weeks, now. And in hindsight, it's our view that what he's really doing is working on his own age now. The audience expects caterwaul @ when Cecil Taylor takes the stage, and he took the stage with plenty. There is plenty of that. We found, though that within the ruckus is a steady mumbling, the occasional syllabification, calling forth youth from age and age from youth. That's how he's working these days. Small, distant and able to make his presence known.

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