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Taylor, Cecil

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  • Genre: Jazz
  • Instrument: Keyboards
  • Web Site: Here

Born in New York on March 15, 1929, Cecil Taylor began playing piano and at the age of five at the encouragement of his mother. It is recorded that in his early years, the artists he admired included Fats Waller, Erroll Garner, and especially, Bud Powell. His mother grew up in New Jersey and was a childhood friend of Sonny Greer. Therefore, Duke Ellington's influence in the Taylor household was pervasive. As a matter of fact, Cecil Taylor's interest in music is quite cosmopolitan - and the range of his interest in things musical is matched only by his great admiration and intensity of enthusiasm. 


While his music has always been controversial to mainstream audiences, he has always been totally true to his artistic vision, and this has extended into all aspects of his life including his passions for reading, dance, theatre, and architecture. He is also an accomplished poet, and has incorporated this talent into many of his performances and recordings.


From 1951-1955 he attended the New England Conservatory where he concentrated in piano and music theory. His early professional career began working with Hot Lips Page and Johnny Hodges (c. 1953). In 1955 he formed a quartet with Steve Lacy and soon released his first important album, Jazz Avance (1956). An engagement shortly after at the Five Spot helped to establish the Greenwich Village club as a forum for East Coast new jazz. During this period he also made an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Great South Bay Jazz Festival. In 1960 his “free-jazz” quartet controversially temporarily replaced a “hard-bop” band in the play The Connection.

In 1964 he took part in the October Revolution in Jazz, a series of New York City Concerts self-sponsored by Bill Dixon's Jazz Composers Guild (consisting mostly of musicians of the avant-garde variety). In the 70's, he briefly taught at Antioch College, the University of Wisconsin, and Glassboro State College in New Jersey.

Virtually all of Taylor's recorded music between 1967 and 1977 was recorded and released in Europe. After 1973, his career began to gain momentum and he began to tour regularly as a solo pianist and leading his own groups. He was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and ran his own record label named Unit Core. In 1975 he was elected into the Down Beat Hall of Fame. He has recorded over eighty albums under his own name. His music is still widely considered ahead of its time.


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