Cecil Taylor

Student Studies

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Released on LP in 1966, Cecil Taylor's Student Studies is an anomaly from his other recordings of the era. Not purely improvised, Taylor uses arranged sections and built-in segments for thematic and improvisational space. His meditations on short tonal studies and propulsive bursts of energy became signifiers of his later music. The band here, including Jimmy Lyons, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Andrew Cyrille, registered with Taylor's fluid disciplinary approach to atonalism and dissonance, and found room to actually swing in. In fact, the influences Taylor spoke of most often during the era -- Ellington, Bud Powell, and Mingus, can be traced here, if not heard outright. And the reliance on intervallic assertions by the various players presented a new opening in Taylor's work that he would take to an extreme later on. This is the sound of an artist at a creative peak of his improvisational and authoritative power to lead a band through the maze of sonic architecture and come out with something that was truly new and different. This is the first American appearance of Student Studies on CD, the sound is wonderful, and critic Scott Yanow's notes are empathetic and enlightening.

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