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Cecil Taylor: Qu’a: Live at the Irridium Vol. 1

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Qu’a: Live at the Tridium Volume 1 contains one long performance during which Taylor plays unaccompanied as well as improvising collectively with his 1998 quartet, including Harri Sjostrom, soprano sax, Dominic Duval, bass and Jackson Krall, drums. Sjostrom turns in angular, unpredictably fragmented lines, which is to be expected of any saxophonist who’s with Cecil, an in-your-face player who stays in the front line during other people’s solos. Dig at the beginning of the CD Cecil’s fine sense of motivic variation. He begins with restraint, then builds to a fever pitch, which is where the band stays during most of the piece. Duval and Krall perform with discipline and intelligence; they deserve credit for what they don’t as well as do play. Cecil’s on fire, bursting with ideas, and happily Krall allows him to stretch and be heard.