Joe Pierre | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Duets with drummers are now par for the course for Cecil Taylor, having recorded and played extensively with European drummers during the Berlin residence in 1988, and with Max Roach or Tony Oxley since 2000. But this recording from 1979 seems to have been one of the first drum-duet outings for CT (excepting the hard to find 8-minute collaboration "Morgan's Motion" on Tony Williams' album Joy of Flying) and is therefore historic indeed. Max Roach and CT had never played together before, and there was apparently no rehearsal for this performance.
This 2-disc CD opens with a spoken introduction, stating that the actual title of the evening's pieces, according to Max, was "Duets." Max plays a straightforward drum solo on track 2, while CT takes his turn on track 3. CT's solo is a fairly gentle exploration of his trademark chords. On track 4, the music starts in earnest and it's pretty much breakneck stuff for 40 minutes. Cecil is doing his usual thundering left hand mirror-chord work on the Bosendorfer along with furious 10-fingered "melodies," typical of his late 70's and 80's work, and Max is keeping pace with fairly straightahead accompaniment on a pretty conventional drum kit -- mostly cymbals, snare, floor-toms, and bass. Just past the 29-minute mark, Max beats on some tom-toms that sound like water drums creating some very cool melodic effects -- a pity it only lasts for 2 minutes before returning to the cymbals.
On disc 2, track 1 likewise opens with CT starting more slowly and Max using various percussive effects in spare fashion -- rapping wood sticks, a rattle-roll, and a flex-a-tone. Again, pretty cool stuff that I've never heard replicated on any subsequent CT-drum duets. But then they're back to basics and hammering away. Although there is no track division, the music stops and the audience applauds at around the 25-minute mark before going on to the 3rd movement. But aside from the unusual percussive effects, the rest of the playing, as on disc 1, is firmly grounded in trademark CT territory with powerful playing by Max.
Disc 2 has some "interviews" on tracks 2 and 3, but it's more like a narrator and cuts of Max and Cecil praising one another, with excerpts from the concert itself interspersed -- pretty redundant if you've just listened to it! But then again, it's kind of interesting to hear Cecil making comments that sound completely rational (like telling anecdotes about his meeting Max), since that isn't exactly his usual practice.
This was something like my 40th CT CD acquisition, so it's not exactly new ground for me. But it is cool to hear what Max was doing with his percussive effects, and somehow his drumming does seem more American than CT's subsequent drum collaborators and therefore distinctive -- certainly quite different than Tony Oxley. Overall, this is really great stuff -- powerful, energetic, and unrelenting -- typical of 80's era CT. Makes me wonder how the duo sounded when they reunited 21 years later (in their seventies!!) at Columbia back in 2000...
More ideas like this should be jazz
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 11/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I thought this was a great concept to hear these two combustible players making bonfires, lighting fires along the way,dropping entires 'trees of expressions', well not 'here', not this time; as they travel the paths into the wilderness, Max Roach lyrical on drums goes well,tends to make Cecil play different;Not as free as cecil-'Indent' ideas;he always makes sense for what he does, and "sense" has many levels, scoping it out past the Here and Now, and projecting it down stream a little; with Cecil Taylor uncompromising solos, the plan is to stay out of his way, you don't play with him, as against him, fusing-uniting whenever, and wherever possible; I tended to listen to Max more, I pretty much know the "cognitive maps" that Cecil deploys/ does as in the First Improv between them, really "Funny" to hear "Modal" ideas from Cecil,(1979) marks out the time this was done, He's also more traditionally beautiful,perhaps knowing he was playing with the lyrical drummer; the First Improv goes, and goes, like sent through a pipe to a large water dam unknown, Cecil just keeps going, textures abound, high filigrees, tickleey stuff,In One? No one knows; Max just fills the space,never coming to dominate;Set-Man, Set Drummer;We need to wait till Oxley shows his Face to Us; also creating wonderful metal-canvases, in the use of cymbals,suspended, rolls on them to unbearable loudness; the ringing,hanging/banging,janging timbres he gets, things do at times get turned up a few nothches from places you would think they already got as high up the mountainside as you can go, but just these walls, "sheets" of sound really breath-taking away-from-me;
The Second Improv, Max and Cecil is more rhythm, like a fugue, motives tossed between them both,shorter, clipped ideas; very different, same development, Cecil now more mindful of the situation,still goes up in clusters, using his three-fingered chords;like a small Jack-Hammer;particles,splinters of piano ideas,you can't call them "melodies", micro-melodies" is about It; more scoping out where he is,(Cecil) Who he is, and Where he wants to Go,(Max) and Go they do, again, the drums draws you in,Max and Flex-tones, ratchets, kinda get him out of Himself, you gotta when Cecil is forever testing the stream of minerals of/in the music;(Max) like that's what is punctuating these long paragraph sentences(Drums) you got,going on, the Goings-On are very interesting, you'd hear the whole Thing again, and I'd still be drawn to Max, Cecil was like the Wall,Piano-Screens,enveloping, developing into textures that go nowheres;straight-line,linear arrays of musical ideas. . . . Jazz should Do more of these, instead of all the boring ideas that you know makes bread, while the getting is Good, but now and then you gotta do something for Jazz, the Art, it doesn't pay the Rent, and you may wind up in a Line waiting for a Bowl of Soup, but Jazz as a language is well worth it, standing out in the Cold,Waiting for the Bus;#151; Jazz deserves it, so does what you Do together, Piano and Drums. . ."