Cecil Taylor, The World Of Cecil Taylor

Steve Smith

By Steve Smith

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Before breaking with structure, the avant-garde jazz piano giant swung like mad on this 1960 classic.

When maverick pianist Cecil Taylor recorded the sessions issued on his Candid debut, The World of Cecil Taylor, in late October, 1960, he was still about two years away from his decisive break with conventional structure. For listeners who know only Taylor's uncompromising later sessions, hearing him interact with the late Denis Charles, the St. Croix-born drummer whose ebullient swing anchors the date, can be eye-opening. But it's precisely the camaraderie between the pianist and drummer, as well as bassist Buell Niedlinger, that makes the album more than a transitional curio. A young Archie Shepp (saxophone), who joins the trio on Taylor original "Air" and a personalized rendition of the standard "Lazy Afternoon," is clearly out of his depth, but plays with enthusiasm and heart. As for the pianist, the signature bent intervals and explosive runs of his mature work are all here in nascent form. What's more, the album simply swings like mad.