Behold The "Winged Serpent"
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 09/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the vast discography of jazz pianist Cecil Taylor, "Winged Serpents (Sliding Quadrants)" is a rare look at this unique composer/improviser's music in a large group setting. Recorded in 1984, this session features an extended frontline of two trumpets (Enrico Rava and Tomasz Stanko), two tenor saxes (Frank Wright and John Tchicai), alto sax (Cecil Taylor Unit regular Jimmy Lyons), baritone sax (Gunter Hampel) and bassoon (Karen Borca). Joining those seven and Taylor in the rhythm section are William Parker on bass, and two drummers -- Rashid Bakr and Andre Martinez. With all of these musicians, it comes as no surprise that this disc is characterized by boisterous collective improvisation, and rich, full, intricate horn textures. The opening of the first track "Taht" has always reminded me of John Coltrane's "Ascension" and it builds to similar lofty heights. "Womb Waters" covers the same exploratory territory and features some ecstatic horn collaborations. The bells and chants in the first part of "Cun-Un" have always left me a bit cold, but the brief, warped funk groove at the song's conclusion is always fun. The title track concludes the disc and it is the album's most complex and rewarding tune. A final note, this CD is remarkably well recorded, with each of the horns captured in their own distinct space with clear, bright, crisp clarity -- a necessity considering Taylor's dense musical style. Fans of Taylor's music should not overlook the "Winged Serpent.""
Large Group Cecil
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 08/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Winged Serpents Sliding Quadrants) is the first time that Cecil has recorded with a large group since the 60's and as such is a very important release. Add to that the fact that this disc contains some of Taylor's most inspired work and this is a must have CD for avant-garde jazz fans.The ensemble consists of 7 horns and rhythm section with two drummers. The pieces concentrate on wild group improvisation, but as usual with Taylor, this is not "free" improvisation as in Coltrane's Ascension. Rather, the music is carefully structured around melodic cells, and scales derived from the blues and synthetic sources. Taht is an all out collective imrpovisation based on a short riff that reminds me of something that Mingus might have composed. I agree with Michael Richmond that the opening of Cun - Un - Un - Un - An wears out it's welcome quickly. I've never been a great fan of Taylor's experiments with spoken word music. but the rest of the cut is quite good.The stand out for me on this album is Womb Waters. The work starts out very much like other Taylor pieces, with a small cell repeated over and over in the horns in a free time, leading to some pretty frenetic collective blowing. But it ends with an honest to God ballad based on the opening melody. Here Taylor gets almost Ellingtonian, with well defined chord changes and a soulful melody intoned in the horns. And the tightness of structure in this piece is evidenced throughout. It is a marvelous work, one of Taylor's best pieces on disc since Enter Evening from Unit Structures.Overall, this is a major disc by Taylor, one that should be aquired by every fan. The ensemble is expert and the musical selections are some of the best of Taylor's career. Highly recommended to fans of this progressive artist."