October 1999

Cecil Taylor Quartet
Qu'a Yuba Live at the Iridium Vol. 2

Cecil Taylor never flooded the market with records, but his solo appearances in recent years have often featured vocalizing and even dancing that left many of us baffled. At this point his position is comparable to Monk's in the '60s. The general parameters of the music are pretty well-defined, and some listeners have begun taking him for granted without actually checking out what he's up to. Qu'a Yuba proves that ignoring genii carries the risk of missing out on great music. Cecil's piano is more breathtaking than ever and his writing is still deeply satisfying. Harri Sjostrom's soprano seems to combine the way Jimmy Lyons or Steve Lacy worked in this context with an Evan Parkerish approach. Dominic Duval has the big bass sound that's necessary to this music, and Jackson Krall's constantly shifting barrage is more like speed-of-thought counterpoint than the impressionistic background some free drummers create. All three men play off the pianist in different ways for a group sound that stretches Taylor's music to its most abstract form yet.

Originally published in October 1999
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