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Cecil Taylor: Trance

It is almost impossible at 35 years’ distance to convey the significance of this recording and its companion, Nefertiti, the Beautiful One, Has Come. The original releases were almost unobtainable and most of us never heard this music until the mid-’70s Arista reissue. Coming between the Candid and Blue Note recordings, they represent the first full flowering of Taylor’s conception. His playing on “Unit Structures” and even “Conquistador,” great as those records are, seems restrained in comparison. The elemental power we heard clearly on (findable) records from about 1969 on was actually achieved far earlier, perhaps as the result of having some steady work in Europe. One also assumes that the perceived lag had to do with reproducing the fire in the studio that is so evident on these live recordings.

Taylor and Sonny Murray are hand in glove, while Jimmy Lyons had gone far towards perfecting his role as foil. His conception, as he has said, derived more from Ernie Henry than Charlie Parker, as was his sound, a pure blues cry that roots the music from the top. An approach that takes getting used to but that served so well for so long.

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