Soon after he first emerged in the mid-'50s, pianist Cecil Taylor was considered one of the most radical and boundary-pushing improvisers in jazz. Although in his early days he used some standards as vehicles for improvisation, Taylor is largely known for his often avant-garde original compositions. To simplify describing his style, one could say that his intense atonal percussive approach involved playing the piano as if it were a set of drums. He generally emphasized dense clusters of sound played with remarkable technique and endurance, often during marathon performances. Born in 1929, and raised in Corona, Queens in New York City, Taylor started piano lessons at the age of six, and attended the New York College of Music and the New England Conservatory. His early influences included Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck, but from the start ...
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