Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Conversation with the Insect Gods
Joe Pierre | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The late 90's found Cecil Taylor under-recorded compared to the previous decade, but still actively playing, often in trio format with Dominic Duval (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums). Both of these guys could really tear it up, with Krall often going full-bore and full-volume on the skins, and Duval similarly aggressive. In '97, this trio hit the Village Vanguard in NYC and the Jazz Bakery in LA, and then in '98 they returned to NYC to play the Knitting Factory. Well-rehearsed, they then played the Iridium in NYC for a week in March 1998 with the addition of Harri Sjöström on soprano sax and the results of the final night captured on the two-disc (sold separately) concert "Qu'a: Live at the Iridium." Volume 1 features a 62-minute track, "Qu'a" while Volume 2 has "Qu'a Yuba" at 47 minutes.
Volume 1 is a solid outing with some adventurous playing and interesting interplay. Despite the potential of this band to rock-out, here the playing is more consistently medium tempo, with Taylor exploring his usual mirror chord themes and scalar inversions. Duval splits between plucking and bowing the bass strings, and Krall in particular is fairly restrained, opting for more percussive embellishments with a lot of soft cymbal crashes and shots, and repeated, brief staccato rolls on tom-toms and snare. Not that this is sedate music by any means, but it's not quite full-blown frenetic Cecil either. Sjöström is a novel addition to Taylor's music, with a "mouthy" tone on soprano (as opposed to Coltrane's nasal style, or Lacy's throaty sound) and plenty of free-range squawky flights and utterances.
The most interesting interplay starts around the 18-minute mark, ushered in by a repetition of bent notes by Duval's strings. Later, Sjöström and Duval get into a dialogue between soprano sax and bowed bass that sounds like a conversation between two insects -- Duval's bass buzzing like a cicada on a hot summer day and Sjöström swirling around in an alien tongue (makes you almost wonder if someone wasn't listening to George Crumb). There is a crescendo at around 30 minutes with subsequent ebbs and flows to round out the hour, and Sjöström alternately entering and leaving the fray -- he's seems just a bit of a sidenote rather than a solo force. Still, this is challenging and rewarding music, though I do prefer "Nailed" with Evan Parker on tenor and soprano from 1990 as the best latter-day quartet recording with CT and a horn player.
No liner notes in this Cadence recording, but there is a poem by CT in his own script that inscrutably refers to the title of the concert.