Chinampas – Cecil Taylor

Taylor reads his poetry on the subject of composition, accompanied by small percussion. 

"What kind of writing Is Chinampas? Cecil presents no graphic system - if Chinampas is writing, it is so in the absence of visuality. Under what conditions, then, could Chinampas be called "writing"? Perhaps within an understanding of writing more broadly conceived as nonverbal, as well as verbal, systems of graphic communication. Yet, since what we have there is nongraphic verbalcommunication, the legitimacy of its claim to writing is not self-evident. Nevertheless ideas of and about graphic systems are presented in Chinampas, sound blurrring vision in the improvisation of another writing; and image, position, and direction are so encoded- the visual-spatial so embedded -in the poem that what we have is something more complex even than some newly included Outside of writing. Rather, Chinampas is out from the outside of writing as it is conventionally defined or redefined in what have become conventional redefinitions. Writing is, in Chinampas, a visual-spatial-tactile improvisation of system that activates the aural resources of the language. The poem is an improvisation of writing not to be appropriated by, not proper to, an older and somehow more inclusive graphesis: it is not a valorization but an improvisation of the nonverbal; not an abandonment but a (re)sounding of the visual-spatial." - Fred Moton

Great essay by Moten on this piece here.


Cecil Taylor / poetry, voice, tympany, bells, small percussion


Recorded at Doodlehums Studio, London 16th & 17th November 1987 by Alan Mosley. Artwork by Lora Denis. Original painting by Malik Cisse.

Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC

Cecil Taylor

Determinedly avant garde, Taylor is one of the most controversial figures in jazz - an artist who found it hard to make a living from his conception of the music when it was at its most original, but someone who was lionised in later life as a founding father of the free jazz movement of the 1950s. He was conventionally trained, and during his time at the New England Conservatory also took part in Boston's burgeoning modern-jazz scene. By the time he arrived in New York in 1956, steeped in many aspects of contemporary classical music as well as jazz, he soon made his mark as an uncompromising free player. He held down a celebrated residency at New York's Five Spot, and began recording with a quartet that included saxophonist Steve Lacy. Later, he worked with saxophonists Archie Shepp or Jimmy Lyons. These groups were every bit as free and radical in their conception as the contemporary quartet led by Ornette Coleman. At the heart of their work was Taylor's piano playing, which soon shed any obvious connection with conventional melody and harmony. Referring to the number of keys on a standard piano, Val Wilmer used the phrase "eighty-eight tuned drums" to describe Taylor's pianism