FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


G. Fritze Margull


JUNE 17th ,'88

Climbing some stairs, one reaches a room bathed in a greyish light. On entering, the same number of steps descend into the room giving the illusion of greater depth.

At the front, on a flat stage the width of the room, in the glare of the spotlights, a concert grand.

Three or four steps away, a drum-set, enlarged by the addition of organ pipes, different sized gongs, tubular bells and percussion instruments spread round and about.

The situation seems obvious: 1 Piano-player, 1 Drummer = 1 Duo, at this time, a classic formation in the Jazz tradition.

But it does not require much sensitivity in order to feel the tension which indicates something special is about to happen. The run of events and their outcome, wide open.

* Baby Sommer: "To play with Cecil Taylor is a challenge, in many different ways, also on the physical level. Just to have the stamina to last out over a period of one to two hours of extremely active playing is a minimum requirement. At the same time you have to be able to rely on the flow of your own ideas, what you try to impart. Not only just reacting to his music, but keeping up with him, bringing in your own material. . ."

II. Out of the darkness, from the edge of the room, suddenly a voice. Guttural sounds become distinguishable, and snippets of speech, a call; the grey light seems to open up. And now, the man and the voice are at the piano, he creeps round it tapping on the wood, all the while challenging, tempting - and, ever present, the voice with its strange vocal sounds, hissing - straightening itself out into a music that one feels is already there in the room, just waiting for a push, in order to be heard.

The space behind the drums is now occupied, unnoticed by the audience. The drummer, hands with sticks raised at the ready, tense, expectant.

The man, using a kind of dance to confirm an oath on the "black thing", bends down deep into its innards, just like turning the cogs inside a clock-case in order to give the time another dimension, another direction.

His hands drop to the keyboard: dark, fathomless chords, harshly struck. The tones slowly die away, the right hand, having found a motive that it likes, twists and bends the scales, changes the emphasis...

In the background, often interjecting, muffled, sometimes hard, the beats from the timpani,-the deep, tight rhythm of the bass drum. A metal sheet sizzles a second... then extinguished.

The tempo builds up. The hands of the pianist cause the vision to spin. On each arm at least three or four hands which appear suddenly and with an incredible speed, and tumbling over each other, withdraw themselves again, dancing about on the keys, making the most amazing leaps. One or two hands freeze for a second, while four or five others rush on, two have suddenly disappeared (where to?), preparing to Join In again


* Baby Sommer: "In fact my present view of playing is pretty opposite to Taylor's.
What I have developed over the last few years, and what I find important, is to develop with my special collection of instruments, harmonic structures, which require space and time in order to unfold.
But as Taylor's music is very, very dense, I had to put aside some of these ideas, in order to be able to contribute.
In general I think I managed to do that. I played more abstractly, tighter, more upfront, because the situation demanded it." "We had only improvised together for about twenty minutes that afternoon and so, for the concert, I had to re/y on my own fund of experience.
The fact that Taylor gives the same importance to each and every note as part of the Whole, made me treat my drums differently. Every single piece, even the cymbal stands, every drum, had the same value, and that is not usually the case. But the continuous "vibrations" coming from the piano that struck my equipment and were then bounced around, set the whole thing oscillating, anyway. "

... only to resurface with notes, singly, by the dozen, cascading down and burning out, like flashes of light striking the retina.

The intensity of the playing keeps building. Salvos from the drums that erupt, and then hit the endlessly ascending bundles of notes from the pianist, miss each other, or crash into each other, only to start over again. Taylor interrupts his own 'tearaway' playing with hard, full sounding blocks of notes, which are then immediately launched into. The drummer presses on with his own tempo, lays down rhythmic patterns on which the piano tones dance, dance... Just like atomic particles, the scales first group round each other, then, chased by following ones, are forced to scatter. The whole thing, like a strong flowing river whose course sometimes narrows, increases in tempo and power, and then, widens out again, just lingers, holds out for a moment and then gushes on in a renewed maelstrom, that takes everything with it.

You want to scream! Enough! That is enough!

* Baby Sommer: "As a player, first of all, you are completely pulled along by the tempo, boosting your power to react to such an extent; otherwise you just couldn't absorb any of the phrasing. But this is only on the surface, not just for me both also for the listener, because even Taylor's music is bound to a human time-scale; he simply plays more notes per unit of time. When your 'hearing' reaches the point of not breaking the thing down into a series of single notes, but about immersing yourself in the "total sound", you reach a kind of time-scale that you could say, accords with the rhythm of breathing. Both more fundamental, and of more practical importance is, however, the actual intensity of his playing. Factors such as composition, structure, self-development etc. play a subordinate role. The "inner need" of the so called artist's work, finds its most direct outlet through this music. . ."

And suddenly you're through, through the outer barriers of the 'cyclone of notes', and it is just as the centre of the hurricane is portrayed: surprisingly still, time stretched out, surrounded by a field of energy.

All the senses are activated, heightened. The perception, immediately directed towards the present moment. Now and only now, that's it.

Round and round everything whirls, spiraling, regenerating itself, never ending.



"Describing music is like 'story-telling' a meal". (---)

Translation: Paul Lytton

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