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


G. Fritze Margull


JULY 10th,88

"Music, as we know it, is a gigantic monument of the Art world, inspired by National celebrations and pontifical masses and other kinds of emotional and despairing jubilations typical of the Ninth Symphony; but is it really genuine?"
(Haldor Laxness)

Bennink: - starts with a fast tempo: ratchet, pierced by drum-fill - free sounds - stamping, enters the room, hits the floor, walls ...

Taylor: - responds with calls, clapping

Bennink: - breakneck drum fill-ins, suddenly interrupted, picked up again - single rim shots

Taylor: - voice - the first chords in the bass register, set against the drums - percussive rows of notes

Bennink: - some 'thick' brushwork- pushes forward - changes direction using vocal sounds

Taylor: - tears at the strings - drives his playing onwards

Bennink: - changes rhythms, gets faster, breaks off - piercing cymbal crashes

Taylor: - finds his groove. Blocks of melody. Jazz lines. Right hand - middle register- punctuated by the left hand . . .

Already, before he even reaches for the keyboard you
u can feel in incredible tension - which doesn't only show itself in the wild cascades of sound and in a unique variety of textures and dynamics, but is also retained in the developing, Iyrical, brittle kind of romantic passages from the very beginning, a sound-scape is created - suspended, floating, full of vibrations - in which the drums pounds out holes - which reshapes itself, gives way, stretches out. The gashes from the cymbals are stitched together with glistening runs.

It is not the pianistic virtuosity, the wide-open playing, the stretching out and bunching together of the different tempos, but the infernal energy that pulls everything into the space which encloses everybody, building up to such a level that you feel you want to scream so loud, that it chokes your breath.

Worlds of sounds in which the structure appears confused. Where associations can never be recalled. It is as if veil after veil were stripped away, exposing new stars, each one a perfect image. Ringing out and then dying away.

Bennink's drums interfere: they are obtrusive, slow the process down, squeeze in between the notes and sounds. The overlapping and interlocking, the rhythmical assonances give rise to opposing forces, and are then thrown off balance.

Piano and drums - for one moment locked together, interwoven, fall apart, find each other again just at the right moment, each foreseeing what the other is about to do.

Bennink drums away, demands room, takes off, overtakes Taylor's tempo - who pushes and pushes (the left hand is playing a "BoogieWoogie"), taking up the entire space for himself, filling it out. The piano sticks to the hands, which, trying to wrench themselves free, are unable to do so ...

A head-on collision between piano and drums, brought about by a ridiculous tempo and thundering volume.

A dynamic creation, orbiting round itself, rising up . . .

Taylor: - voice: redeeming, soothing. Guttural sounds. Stretched vowels - the hollow sound from the wood of the piano

Bennink: - replies with the drums, cutting, bright

Taylor: - piercing voice - HAN

Bennink: - lets himself be driven, faster, faster

Taylor: - MAGIC OF SOUND - Magic Of Sound - magic of sound


... To me it's just as interesting listening to Cecil as playing with him. It was like that at our first meeting in 1967, when Willem Breuker and I were to play with him in the evening, he came to the studio, played the whole day on the piano and I just sat and listened. He hasn't changed.

Of course I knew some of his records, "Live At The Café Montmartre" or "The World Of Cecil Taylor", that I liked very much. On this record is a short, fantastic piece, "Lazy Afternoon". An example just to show that he can play so romantically, almost classical. I find his miniature pieces really great and each time they are different. If Cecil were to make a record with only "three minute pieces" or those "encores", I would be the first ...

I even wrote to him about that.

But what I still find the most interesting is the type of musical approach that he uses on the Gil Evans record, " Into The Hot".

I first experienced the different openings and approaches to his music through these gigs in Berlin, both with him and in the large group (Cecil Taylor European Orchestra). The Orchestra was great, but I'm really convinced that if we had more time to work together, the music would have been even better.

What was important and quite revealing was a longer, more relaxed conversation with Cecil that happened just before the duo concert. It was quick exchange over likes and dislikes in the music, personal experiences and approaches, which made it clear to me, how much he's actually inside the tradition, and not only that he has just assimilated it.

Also I prefer to listen to Big Sid Catlett or Kenny Clarke, instead of the modern drummers and I still have leanings to West African music. In comparison to some, who've quit that background, or who maybe never came out of it, I consider myself a jazz drummer. That's the reason I stopped using my enormous kit. There were enough imitators.

Just like the piano player has to play on the house piano, I use a normal kit laid on by the promoter. And that has to be enough to get a sound, to play your own 'tricks' on. But, I do take my own snare with me because I just like the taste of it.

One thing - compared with earlier, I practice much, much more. I put in a lot more time, I guess I'm afraid that if I don't do it, I could loose that fine control, the speed or the freshness. A fear that every creative person has, that maybe it's not going to happen anymore. In the process, for example, I've now found something with my left hand that no one else can play.

I think it's very important to go back to the origins of playing the drums, to bring back that 'jazz view'. I've got to the point that I can do all that's necessary using just a couple of matches.

When someone totally flips-out, like Cecil, I feel I have to keep my playing simple, basic, occasionally laying down a Dixieland feel, just to check out how it sounds.

I don't think it helps, when you just play all the possible sounds and noises. A chimpanzee can do that just as well. Another way of playing with Taylor, and so as not to make the already thick sound even thicker, is to try to look for a sort of "counterpoint" - which is hard in his music, because Cecil doesn't actually "swing", so as colleague, you have to take care of it.

When you simply follow him, and many do just that, there are too many notes and not enough clarity. I put my "system" up against his, and this allows new things to happen - that's how music survives - otherwise it would be too easy, and that not interesting for me at all.

I play with this kind of idea in my head and I am constantly testing it out, today with Cecil, tomorrow with some other musician. Anyway, talking about something and doing it are two different things, If I could explain in words what I am playing, I would write a book, just to leaf through and to refer to.

So now I'm going to talk about my feelings during the concert: I could play exactly as I wanted to and it was just the same for him. A11 together, I had great feeling the whole time, even though I haven't yet heard any of the results.

Also, Cecil keeps finding different ways of playing. He's worked out such a wide range of possibilities - and he's still working on them - and when he gets what he wants: a very good Concert-Grand, then it's absolutely no problem to play with him.

I think he belongs up there with the Great Masters like Duke, Monk, Billie Holliday and a few others. He has the maturity and the mystique - just simply Cecil Taylor. He does what he does.

Translation: Paul Lytton

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