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jazzfan
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Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!

Well this is it, the holy grail which we audiophiles all claim to aim for, namely the sound of live music. And in this case it's one of the living legends of music of the past century who is performing live this week with his 15 piece big band at Iridium in New York City. I'll be there for the first set (and maybe more) on Friday night, where will you be?

http://www.iridiumjazzclub.com/

This one should not be missed.

stereophillips
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!

In my case, that mostly depends on whether or not there's a transit strike.

If yes, I'll be stuck waay out in Bay Ridge. If not, I'll try to make it to Iridium.

jazzfan
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!


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In my case, that mostly depends on whether or not there's a transit strike.

If yes, I'll be stuck waay out in Bay Ridge. If not, I'll try to make it to Iridium.

Now you put me in a bad spot.

On the one hand I don't want a transit strike so that all my friends like Wes can get over to Iridium to listen to the great Cecil Taylor. And if there's a strike we have to listen to Bloomberg's winey voice countless times a day until the strike is settled.

And on the other hand I'm kinda pulling for a strike since that means less people at the show and a better chance of getting to stay for the next couple of sets of music.

Sorry Wes, but I guess I'm pulling for a strike.

jazzfan
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!

Hey Wes and fellow NYC forum members:

Looks like there's no mass transit strike for this weekend so I except the see a bunch of you at the Cecil Taylor shows throughout the weekend. As I said, I'll be there tonight at 8 pm, hope to see you there.

mmole
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!

So, uh, guys how was Cecil? What does his big band sound like? Are they playing arranged compositions or are they playing "free"? Did they shock you by locking into an old Fletcher Henderson arrangement? What was it like?

jazzfan
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!


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So, uh, guys how was Cecil? What does his big band sound like? Are they playing arranged compositions or are they playing "free"? Did they shock you by locking into an old Fletcher Henderson arrangement? What was it like?

Hi Roy,

Sorry for the delayed response but the New Year's holiday set me back a few days.

I think I can answer all of your questions, but I must set the scene so that you get as much of the effect of the experience as possible.

Iridium is located on Broadway, about three blocks north of the heart of Times Square. The club itself is on the basement level directly below one of those tourist trap "theme" restuarants where all the waiters sing Broadway show tunes. Apparently that's where Iridium's owners make most of their money, the jazz club is just a pleasant side business.

The jazz club is first class all the way. It features fairly good food, a nice wine list, a full bar, a pleasant and friendly staff, an excellent sound system, good lighting and most importantly, there's not a bad seat in the house.

My wife and I attended the 8 pm show (Cecil only played two sets a night, rather then Iridium's norm of three sets), and we were rather surprised to find that show was not sold out. We had wonderful seats with plenty of room to stetch out and enjoy the music.

The stage, as is the norm for a good jazz club, is roomy for a quartet or quintet got rather crowded when the 18 piece big band squeezed it's way on. I'll try to give you as much of the line up as I remember or was told since the personel was never announced. Along with Cecil on piano there was Jackson Krall on drums, a bass player playing some type of hybrid electric/acoustic bass, an electric guitar, 3 or 4 trumpets, 2 trombones, and about 7 or 8 reed players. Somehow they all managed to fit onto the stage along with their music stands and various instruments.

Cecil was dressed, as usual, in an oversized loose fitting shirt, sweat pants and thick tiedyed sweat socks. The music started off, as usual, with a quiet percussive introduction but with no poems or other vocals to speak of. Slowly the rest of the band joined in until a great loud wall of sound washed over the audience and things were off and running and would not let up for the next 60 minutes or so.

So what does the big band sound like? That's a tough question to answer with the written word since Cecil Taylor's big bands tend to sound like his piano playing fleshed out into a big band and I've yet to read a good description of Cecil's piano playing. But I'll give it the old college try.

Perhap the best way to describe the band is say what it doesn't sound like. First of all the band was not playing totally free but rather they were following some sort of notation system and were quite able to play in unison and convey very distinct harmonic and melodic themes and ideas. I would have to say that they were following arrangements but just not the same type of arrangements that one would be used to if one were listening to Duke Ellington. And yes, they were also playing free but within the parameters set up by Cecil's arrangements. I know that sounds like a contradiction but believe me it's not and this band pulls it off quite well.

I have to report that they did not launch into any Fletcher Henderson (or anyone else's for that matter) arrangements - that was Sun Ra's trademark. And while several of the band member were featured during the course of the performance (they would stand up and "solo" over the rest of the band) only Cecil's piano playing got any real solo space with just piano alone or piano, bass and drums.

While heavy doses of a hard blowing and somewhat chaotic and noisy sounding big band can wear one out rather quickly Cecil put just enough variation in the music to keep that from happening. There were several periods for slower, quieter sections featuring lovely piano work and some very pretty sax and trumpet arrangements. The set came to a fitting close with the most delicate of piano sign offs one could imagine.

Apparently the band's personel was subject to change from night to night as the money to fund this kind of project is just there in the good old USA. Even with such limited funding and support, Cecil still managed to put together a first class ensemble that executed his complex musical ideas to perfection. One can only imagine what the results would be like if Cecil were given the resources at the disposal of someone like Sir Wynton. I shutter to think.

Anyway, to put it another way, you missed a damn good show.

mmole
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!

Thanks. That was a great update on what sounds like a great show. I was kidding about that Fletcher Henderson comment but I do love the "order out of chaos" feel you get when a big band blowing "free" suddenly shifts into a strict arrangement with a deep groove. Thanks again for taking the time to reply in such detail. Jazzfan you really are a jazz fan!

jazzfan
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Re: Cecil Taylor Big Band - Live in NYC!!!


Quote:
Thanks. That was a great update on what sounds like a great show. I was kidding about that Fletcher Henderson comment but I do love the "order out of chaos" feel you get when a big band blowing "free" suddenly shifts into a strict arrangement with a deep groove. Thanks again for taking the time to reply in such detail. Jazzfan you really are a jazz fan!

Thank you Roy for such kind words and high praise. I sometimes forget just how deep into jazz I really am and then something comes along to kinda make me very aware of how "off the deep end" I've gone.

For example, many of my long time friends will claim to be jazz fans but when push comes to shove they're still listening to their 20 and 30 year old rock recordings by groups like Dire Straits, Focus, Yes, Allman Bros., Grateful Dead, etc. and not jazz. I, on the other hand, when left to my own devices will more than likely be listening to jazz than anything else. Quite often my wife and daughter will go out shopping and come home to find me sitting in the "sweet spot" with some real fine free jazz blowing out of my speakers and blowing my mind . Hence my "signature" below.

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