Cecil Taylor brought something unique to the piano. With his debut, Jazz Advance, the 27 year old pianist brought a physicality to the instrument that pushed it to the foreground. His energetic playing produced complex clusters of notes that pushed against the boundaries of the post-bop era. It could be an understatement to say his debut was divisive. The young musician faced mountains of scathing criticism for his non-traditional approach. But Taylor was moving in a different direction. His take on Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" twists the rhythm of the melody, breaking it up into jagged fragments and jutting chords. Ellington's "Azure" rides the original's swing into an equally disorienting dimension that hints at Taylor's later patterns of chords and tone clusters. The three Taylor originals pack an astonishing number of details into their fast paced explorations. The closer, "Rickickshaw," seems as if it is a statement of intent. The tempo is pushed to near breaking point as the rhythm section rides a steadily gaining swing. The piano appears to make its getaway with Taylor's astonishing playing leading the way. Jazz Advance introduced a talent that would go on to shape the free jazz that would define the post-bop world.
reviewed by Cool Hand 01/2015