Cecil Taylor Unit/Roswell Rudd Sextet: Mixed (Impulse!/Universal)

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Cecil Taylor Unit/Roswell Rudd Sextet: Mixed (Impulse!/Universal)

Just as composer, multi-instrumentalist and, for want of a better word, "jazz" musician Ornette Coleman has undergone critical and public rehabilitation this past couple of decades, so too the abstract and angular playing of pianist Cecil Taylor is now finding its way closer to the centre of the main frame.

That said, both Ornette's and Cecil's most recent free-form stuff is on small indie labels and well away from the wider hearing they deserve.

That's like Thom Yorke or Michael Stipe's really interesting solo stuff being on a local label outta New Jersey.

This seven-track compilation pulls together three Taylor recordings from 1961 with four from trombonist Rudd (the Taylor recordings coming from Gil Evans' Into the Hot album).

The pairing is natural, both musicians were boundary riders in jazz at the time.
These exceptionally busy, dense, occasionally strident, and sometimes playful tracks sound as contemporary and challenging as they did at the time with altoist Jimmy Lyons and tenor player Archie Shepp squirrelling around the bass and drums (Henry Grimes and Sunny Murray respectively) on the Taylor tracks.

And the Rudd tracks are equally as muscular and inventive. Essential information for scholars: Coleman alumnus Charlie Haden is one of the two bassists, Robyn Kenyatta plays alto and the drummer is Beaver Harris.

It's a tough call for those who like a good tune, but Coleman's recent aphorism "remove the caste system from sound" seems entirely applicable in this democratic music where no player is dominant and the names of the bands are titular acknowledgments only.

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