Cecil Taylor | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The whirlwind pianist, composer, visionary, and eccentric Cecil Taylor returns to Chicago. It's ironic that so many fans of mainstream jazz hold up Taylor (like Ornette Coleman) as an example of the "cacophony" and "formlessness" they decry in free music; it's ironic because few improvisers have been as organized or as concerned with harmony, dissonance, and the rhythmic pulse. Those are musical issues: Taylor's art also tackles larger subjects--such as revolution, intimacy, growth and decay, the true nature of truth and beauty--as a matter of course. It's all a question of knowing where to look in his pummeling, postcubist, phantasmagorical music. Taylor defies the usual once-removed form of intellectual appreciation. His music requires that you abandon yourself to its unique logic and rules and see where it takes you. That's not to say the stuff must be good because we can't understand it; rather, you can't understand it until you first quit worrying whether or not it's good and let your body get involved. (Does that make Cecil Taylor the James Brown of the avant-garde?) Tonight and Saturday, 9 PM, and Sunday, 4 and 8 PM, Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase, Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan; 427-4300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ken Miller.

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