All Music by Cecil Taylor & Tony Oxley
Recorded at Birdland 18th of NOvember, 2011, Neuburg
Sound engineering and mixing: Thomas Schinko
Sound technician: Klaus Billmeier
Radio producer: Roland Spiegel
Mastering: Grzegorz Piwkowski (Highend Audio)
Towers of Letters and a Delicate Echo
Cecil Taylor and Tony Oxley in a basement vault in Germany in 2011
It was a rare moment – the evening of November 18, 2011. A moment of special intimacy. European fans of pianist Cecil Taylor got closer to him than ever before. It wasn’t like a few years ago, when some 1000 listeners gathered in the Prinzregenten Theater in Munich; now only exactly 112 fans gathered in the Birdland Jazz Club in not very far away Neuburg an der Donau. Neuburg is a city dating back to the Renaissance with 28,000 residents, midway between Munich and Nuremberg. For the past few decades the local jazz club, with its unusually well-developed program, has drawn music fans from a wide circle to its current beautiful room in an historic basement vault. Up front – Cecil Taylor, the small, slight man with great energy, the master of free sounds that rumble like thunder but also tinkle like splintering glass. What a contrast! And what a musical experience!
In my role as the person responsible from the Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcasting service for this recording, I had begun this experience in the afternoon as Cecil Taylor was warming up. For two hours the 82-year-old musician sat there at the piano, with his shirttails hanging out, wearing very large white sneakers, running through chords, chromatic eruptions, and fast monophonic sections. He worked meticulously as he sensed the place in the music and prepared himself for the moment of entry. Again and again he played similar figures, and it seemed as though he were sorting out the material for improvisation in the evening together with percussionist Tony Oxley, one of his long-time companions.
Then to the concert. Significant tension leading from a seemingly soft passage, feeling its way, and then again and again rising to energy-laden high points. Whirling melodies, clusters, bass figures like the one of the “gnome” in Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, all together with the rumbling anarcho-percussion of Tony Oxley’s drum set arran....... more