A Guide to the Music of Cecil Taylor, the Pianist Who Helped Invent Avant-Garde Jazz By Marcus J. Moore

In 1959, as jazz musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Art Blakey were releasing what many consider their defining works, Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman were looking toward the future.

Taylor banged his piano keys to the point of breaking them, and Coleman played frenetic arrangements on a plastic white saxophone. They were laying the foundations of a style that would come to be known as “free jazz,” a loose, improvised music that didn’t have much use for traditional structure. It took awhile for critics to get it—if they ever really did.


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