Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Cecil Taylor Unit - Dark To Themselves

Cecil Taylor Unit
Dark To Themselves


Released 1976 on enja
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 13/04/2003ce


This album was recorded live in concert at the "Ljubljana Jazz Festival" in Yugoslavia in June 1976. The record features just one piece which is called "Streams & Chorus Of Seed" and it clocks in at just under 62 minutes. Piano wizard Cecil Taylor surrounds himself with an awesome combo that features Raphe Malik (trumpet), Jimmy Lyons (alto sax), David S. Ware (tenor sax) and Mark Edwards (drums) and of course Cecil on piano.

I was first introduced to the music of Cecil Taylor through his mind-shattering album "Unit Structures" which was quite an intimidating place to start. A lot of Taylor's solo piano works can be quite difficult listening in the beginning but often reward the listener down the road, provided he can hang in there and be patient.

"Dark To Themselves" is a good place to start for newcomers as it features a somewhat more structured and stable sound due to other musicians Taylor has brought to the table for the recording. The piece begins with some heavy "freaking out" but gradually begins to take shape. High marks go to Raphe Malik who absolutely blows his brains out on trumpet, he plays rapid-fire machine gun blasts that recall Don Ayler at his wildest.

During the course of the piece Taylor lets all his band members shine in the spotlight for extended periods while he plays his usual lightning fast runs in the background. As a live album I rate this right up there with John Coltrane's "Live In Seattle" for sheer gut-busting intensity.
"Dark To Themselves" is available on CD from Germany (at least it was a few years ago when I picked it up.) Play this at your next party and see how many people are left standing!


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