The World of Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor was the master builder of the free jazz revolution. This was not well understood at the time, in large part because Ornette Coleman’s emancipation of jazz improvisation from the chordal structures of bebop fit so naturally into an American mythology of negative liberty, of removing constraints—or, more to the point, of overthrowing one’s masters. Taylor was less interested in freedom from inherited forms than in the freedom, or obligation, to create new ones. If Coleman left the house of bebop in ruins, Taylor showed what might be put in its place.

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