Looking (Berlin Version) The Feel Trio

The Feel Trio

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Looking (Berlin Version) The Feel Trio Review

by Thom Jurek

This three-part group improvisation by Cecil Taylor's Feel Trio was recorded in the summer of 1989, exactly a year after his series of concerts in the same city, and about a week before the Berlin Wall fell. After its members had played together sporadically over the previous couple of years, the Feel Trio was a working group, and the empathy and instinct provided by that luxury is certainly in evidence here. As usual, it's Taylor who starts things off, but with very few notes as opposed to his trademark solo beginnings, in order to find a language all the musicians in his group can speak from. Oxley and Parker chime right in, flowing into the heart of Taylor's idea, a loosely structured series of themes -- all linked by sixths and ninths and most extended beyond recognition -- by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, and even Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk. But Penderecki, Lutoslawski, and Stravinsky also emerge in this wildly crisscrossing match of musical wit and dexterity. The pieces all "swing," and while it's true that there are flourishes and lines taken from Taylor's formative years with his first trio and with the late Jimmy Lyons, the proceedings are very much rooted in the now, and in the dynamic of this particular band. They play together flawlessly with Parker and Oxley trading eights, 16ths, and even 32nds with Taylor and each other! It's more than just listening for a rhythm section to get this far inside the pianist's voice, it's more than empathy or affinity, it's downright musical telepathy. There are no extra notes played here, no lazy harmonic structures or modal clich├ęs. This is new music in the purest sense of the phrase. The listener is treated to, and hopefully moved by, the sound of something being born, coming from silence, and an hour later returning there somehow -- making it even bigger, more cavernous, and colorful as a result of this trio's awesome creation.

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