Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
ep1str0phy

Cecil Taylor Documentary

70 posts in this topic

I don't know if someone's started a topic on this (here), but I picked this up on Jazzcorner: Comcast Digital Cable has a Cecil Taylor documentary on their "free movies on demand" section (it's aptly titled "Cecil Taylor" in the on demand section, I believe). I'll be watching it during lunch--will return with feedback. Anyway, the digital cable providers tend to match up on many of their on demand films, so I wouldn't be surprised if the doc is available somewhere else in the country (I'm in Berkeley, CA right now). Happy hunting, folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the only one who seems to give a shit at the moment:

A nice little documentary--nothing really ambitious, but fascinating all the same. Cecil (himself) carries the film; the better chunk of the movie is simply cleverly edited performances and pseudo-interview/chats. There is no attempt to summarize CT's career, few direct references to historical context and/or fellow innovators, and only a modicum of talking heads (and, to warn, the requisite Amiri Baraka and Thurston Moore stuff). However, the film offers added insight into Cecil's musical processes--including his scalular concept, notation system, group dynamic, and teaching techniques. Practically everything that comes out of CT's mouth is quotable. One of my favorites:

"...the joy of practicing leads you to the celebration of creation."

Taken out of context, it seems a little odd/pretentious--but it's nice to see a man of his age and prowess (this was recorded a few years ago, as Elvin and Derek Bailey are both featured) so involved with the processes that the beginning improviser often takes for granted. He's a light on the scene, and it's nice to have him around.

Note: the film is on cable for the purposes of some strange voting procedure that determines whether or not select movies make it onto either DVD or the movie theater. I think the company offering the film is directly linked to Comcast, so everyone else may be out of luck. For those who have it--watch, 'cause we might get CT into the cinemas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the only one who seems to give a shit at the moment:

I "give a shit" but can't be involved 'cause I can't see it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd also support this with a viewing. . . but have no cable of any kind. (And think that's a good idea for my household considering the amount of TV already watched!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for the attitude, folks. It frustrates me when even the community can't get involved; documentaries like this have a built in viewer base, and minimizing test audiences definitely misrepresents the marketability of the film. I suppose, then, that this only applies to Comcast subscribers (or maybe just people in the Bay Area). It sucks that so few of us will get to see it here--I don't know how many people will even bother to watch it... for free.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been looking around and can't find this for internet viewing? Is there a link you could put up?

FWIW major chunks of our five hour radio program was dedicated to Cecil's music last night, with the written insights from Balliett and Bill Shoemaker (?).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be watching it.

That same "channel" had a nice little documentary recently about photographer William Eggleston

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, it seems like this is only available to digital cable subscribers (there's an on-demand service). Hopefully, this documentary will at least make it on to DVD--it deserves to be out there, anyhow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched this movie last night after reading about it on another board and really enjoyed it. Like a previous poster mentioned it was very interesting to hear Cecil Taylor talk about his creative process.

It was also cool to see Mr. Taylor going out to see live music in NYC. The scenes with Billy Bang and Mal Waldron are great in my opinion.

The concert footage is excellent. I’ve never had the opportunity to see him live, so it was a treat to see him perform in many different contexts.

I think I’ll watch it again next week, as I often distracted by trying to figure out what books and records where scattered around his Brooklyn Brownstone.

I don’t think you stream the video online. It’s part of the Palm Video on Demand Film Festival. Here is a link to a review of the actual film: CECIL TAYLOR: ALL THE NOTES. I agree with the reviewer that the editing is a bit herky-jerky.

I’m sure that this will probably be released on Palm DVD sometime this year at a reasonable cost.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched this movie last night after reading about it on another board and really enjoyed it. Like a previous poster mentioned it was very interesting to hear Cecil Taylor talk about his creative process.

It was also cool to see Mr. Taylor going out to see live music in NYC. The scenes with Billy Bang and Mal Waldron are great in my opinion.

The concert footage is excellent. I’ve never had the opportunity to see him live, so it was a treat to see him perform in many different contexts.

I think I’ll watch it again next week, as I often distracted by trying to figure out what books and records where scattered around his Brooklyn Brownstone.

I don’t think you stream the video online. It’s part of the Palm Video on Demand Film Festival. Here is a link to a review of the actual film: CECIL TAYLOR: ALL THE NOTES. I agree with the reviewer that the editing is a bit herky-jerky.

I’m sure that this will probably be released on Palm DVD sometime this year at a reasonable cost.

Yeah--it's by no means a masterpiece of cinematography. Still, given the scarcity of documentaries of this kind, it's an invaluable document. And I completely agree--the concert scenes were a hoot. It's nice to see Taylor out in the field, just taking up the sounds of his peers (and Bang was smoking).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm on the east coast and have Time Warner digital. I'll check to see if this is available. Sounds like something I'd like to see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be watching it.

That same "channel" had a nice little documentary recently about photographer William Eggleston

I saw that Eggleston doc in the theater - a bit jerky in the beginning, but it turned out to be a real charm by then end.

I will go downstairs to see if the CT doc is on my comcast on demand box. Let's just hope the wife can tolerate it on a lazy Sunday...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just realized this program is the same as a dvd I received a couple of weeks ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Imagine The Sound was, also, a close look at Taylor's playing. Bloody piano.

Seen Taylor twice that I remember. The first time in New York. My wife had heard The Blue Man Group was a "must see" so we agreed that if we went to that, then I got a "pick," and it just so happened they were on the same night. The Blue Man group wasn't all that, but it was entertaining. Taylor was on a double bill with Phillip Glass. The Glass show emptied out and we were right on time. That performance, solo, was transforming. Hearing him live, doing his poetry and dance, and then the very, as Litweiler has said, elemental aspect of his music. Elemental in terms of Creation Myths and juxtaposition of geological forces with those of water, pressure and heat, air and fire. When he did play blocked chords the effect was like a tremendous machine: the piano sounded 10 yards long. In other words Taylor had me trippin'.

The second time was at Orchestra Hall in Chicago. That was supposed to be a trio performance but Taylor's sidemen were stuck somewhere (I think it was late January or February). Hearing him solo in such a grand concert space was perfect. The way he constructed the music from his scores was fascinating, as were the slow sections, which were long and developed at that concert.

Reading Balliett's assesment and he comes back to the "otherness" of Cecil Taylor's music in terms of musical revolution, that he was part of it but didn't attract followers. Today, that arguement is harder to see with so many pianists dipping into aspects of Taylor's vocabulary (Marilyn Crispell and Craig Taborn come to mind as players well versed in the world of Cecil Taylor) and Taylor's collaborations such as the recent recording with the Italian Instabile Orchestra.

Edited by Lazaro Vega

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the tip. Just got done watching this film. "Low budget", but/and worthwhile.

Cecil is a trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose, then, that this only applies to Comcast subscribers (or maybe just people in the Bay Area).

I have Comcast and it ain't happening here in NJ.

Even if I didn't have Comcast I could tell you it ain't happening here in NJ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotstabe the Comcast Digital.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reading Balliett's assesment and he comes back to the "otherness" of Cecil Taylor's music in terms of musical revolution, that he was part of it but didn't attract followers. Today, that arguement is harder to see with so many pianists dipping into aspects of Taylor's vocabulary (Marilyn Crispell and Craig Taborn come to mind as players well versed in the world of Cecil Taylor) and Taylor's collaborations such as the recent recording with the Italian Instabile Orchestra.

I don't know if I agree with that entirely - there are surface similarities, but like Monk, he is damn near impossible to imitate. I fail to see, for example, motivic similarities between Cecil and say, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Irene Schweizer or Matthew Shipp (admitting not as much familiarity with Shipp as with the others). Not just in terms of solos, either, but the way Cecil would feed structural fragments to Jimmy or Ramsey Ameen or Cyrille or Oxley is quite different than a lot of these other players work.

But that's probably for another thread :) , I'd still like to see this film even though I don't have Comcast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone supply the running time of the broadcast? My dvd is called the "director's cut"and runs 73 minutes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Comcast the run time is 77 min. I'm not sure if they include the two promos the show before the film in this total.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gotstabe the Comcast Digital.

Got that. Can't find it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More info on the "Limited Edition Director's Cut" here.

CecilTaylorweb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to Comcast the run time is 77 min. I'm not sure if they include the two promos the show before the film in this total.

In reference to CN's question, I'm not sure that the 77 minutes applies to the documentary itself. There are quite a few intro/preview spots which may or may not add to the total time (they are certainly a part of the "total time" as gauged by the Comcast status bar).

On the matter of Cecil's "imitatability"--he seems to make extensive use of synthetic scales, none of which appear to be collected for public view (and thus are difficult to access and assimilate in any comprehensible manner--even by those who know and have played Taylor's stuff intimately). And has anyone really adopted Cecil's cell structure strategy?

Edited by ep1str0phy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't heard it adopted - but would sure like to hear an example if it exists...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More info on the "Limited Edition Director's Cut" here.

CecilTaylorweb.jpg

40$ plus 10$ shipping plus 10$ for doing a money order... sorry, but that's verging on the ridiculous. It was discussed in the CT list, and some there seemed to agree. Pity though, as I'd love to see it, and I bet it won't ever make it to TV over here. I rememeber in the CT list some felt that the director made the impression on them that he didn't really want to share his film... weird, isn't it? I'd rather suppose he'd want to sell it and get at least some of the money back that he must have spent on this project... but not for 40$ plus....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.