Released six years after the event, this CD documents a performance at the 1996 Total Music Meeting in Berlin (Germany). "Nothing special about that," you may say and you'd be right; Cecil Taylor was a regular of the festival and the FMP label has regularly chronicled his appearances. But The Light of Corona is a different story, as it features the pianist's nonet. Joining him are Chris Matthay (trumpet), Chris Jonas, Harri Sjöström and Elliott Levin (saxes, the latter doubling on flute), Jeff Hoyer (trombone), Tristan Honsinger (cello), Dominic Duval (bass) and Jackson Krall (drums). The first piece (over 50 minutes in duration) begins very quietly, the musicians coming on stage and starting to play one at a time, all improvising poetry and vocalizing along the way. It ends in a similar fashion, helping the listener to come down from his or her cloud after a stunning number in which Taylor plays the roles of both inducer and controller of chaos. The musicians stretch the concept of synergy to new lengths and the whole piece finds its momentum in the dichotomy between chaos and order, between individual ideas and collective coherence. At the piano, Taylor is equal to his usual self and very gracious in sharing the stage with so many musicians. After the first piece, he sits down and solos for about 5 minutes (his only solo spot of the evening), after which Duval joins him, followed by the others. In this piece though the piano remains the center of attention, until the whole group breaks into a vocalized coda. Jonas or Sjöström (no way of knowing who handles the sopranino sax at this point) contributes a gripping solo before that.
AllMusic Review by François Couture