Cecil Taylor's life simply does not submit itself to the ordinary rules of program biography. Some facts: he was born in Long Island City in 1933. It is recorded that in his early years, the artists he admired included Fats Waller, Erroll Garner, and especially, Bud Powell. His mother grew up in New Jersey and was a childhood friend of Sonny Greer. Therefore, Duke Ellington's influence in the Taylor household was pervasive. As a matter of fact, Cecil Taylor's interest in music is quite cosmopolitan - and the range of his interest in things musical is matched only by his great admiration and intensity of enthusiasm. He attended and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music. In turn, Mr. Taylor has taught or been in residence for long periods at Antioch College, Glassboro State College in New Jersey, and the University of Wisconsin. Awards and grants have come his way. He recently revised, musicalized, and directed Adrienne Kennedy's play, A Rat's Mass, at New York's La Mama Theatre Annex. He has just completed a new piece for Diane McIntyre's dance company, Sounds in Motion. The work will premiere in New York in early May as part of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre's New York season.
The real story of Cecil Taylor may only be approached indirectly through words. It would take a poet of unusual invention to describe his musical composition and performance. In his many performances throughout the world, on the concert stage, in clubs, in colleges, and, happily, more and more frequently on records, Taylor inspires his listeners into the most ecstatic and involved response.
Cecil Taylor's music goes far beyond the astonishing combination of physical stamina and technical virtuosity needed to carry them out - it is an adventure into the most remarkable and nourishing realms of the mind and spirit.