a score for cecil taylor

cecil taylor photo by leslie bell

this is the photo of cecil taylor taken by the lovely and talented leslie bell, sister of the handsome and loquacious bob bell, at the legendary vancouver jazz society hall on fourth avenue when i presented the cecil taylor unit (with jimmy lyons, david ware, raphe malik, and beaver harris) for four nights in the spring of 1977

about 1964 somewhere in a magazine or anthology i read a poem entitled a score for cecil taylor (whose name at that time was as yet unknown to me) that so intrigued me that when some time later i spotted an album called cecil taylor live at the cafe montmartre in a record store on ste catherine street i bought it instantly, sound unheard, got home and put it on the Lenco turntable and although i grasped little of what i heard i was nonetheless enthralled by the sounds pouring out of my single mono speaker. everything i heard in music from that point on in my life was altered by this single experience. that night dave and harvey came by and as usual we got highcecil taylor cafe montmartre and listened to jazz but when i put this on they decided i had lost my mind and on subsequent evenings it was only by upping the dosage that they were able to yield to my advanced musical choices. (eventually i absorbed taylor’s language and his music not only made sense but it was just as likely to move me as a lester young improvisation or johnny dodd’s solo on perdido street blues

i wanted to go back and re-read that poem that first sparked my interest but couldn’t find it in the volume where i was sure i’d first seen it and i eventually went through every anthology, magazine, broadside, chapbook, and everything else and could never find it. was it a dream?

when i met cecil taylor for the first time in the mid-seventies i told him about how i first became aware of his name through that poem and asked if he knew who had written it and he said he had never seen or heard of it.

so this is a mystery

tomorrow: ornette coleman

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