In 1995, I had the opportunity to audition for and join Cecil’s large ensemble for a concert at the Knitting Factory in NYC. On and off over the next two years I functioned as Cecil’s musical director and as a regular bandmate, helping to arrange and prepare a wide variety of small and large groups for concerts worldwide. Very few of these remarkable compositions Cecil write during this time were ever performed. After developing and rehearsing sets of music before each concert and just as we were going onto stage, Cecil would tell the band “instead of playing the music, let’s improvise.” And these compositions are a part of Cecil’s music that is almost completely unknown.
Spending so many months playing and writing with him, his influence remains central to my concepts of line and form, and an understanding of the fire and access to other domains possible in music.
Here’s a wonderful Burning Ambulance piece on my experience in Cecil’s band.
• Cello – Tristan Honsinger
• Double Bass – Dominic Duval
• Drums – Jackson Krall
• Piano, Composed By – Cecil Taylor
• Soprano Saxophone – Harri Sjöström
• Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Chris Jonas
• Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Elliot Levin
• Trombone – Jeff Hoyer
• Trumpet – Chris Matthay
Total Music Meeting on November 2, 1996 at the Podewil in Berlin.
Photo by Mike Heffley