Hot Ptah

Did you flunk out of Cecil Taylor's jazz history class?

74 posts in this topic

I have read that Cecil Taylor was a music professor for one year at the University of Wisconsin in the early 1970s, and that he gave an "F" to every student in his jazz history class. I am wondering if anyone who contributes to this board was in that class, or knows more directly about the circumstances--what was the class like, what did Cecil expect of the students, why did all of them fail?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I lived in Madison at the time and had some contact with him during his tenure. IIRC he flunked all the students not attending a Miles Davis concert that year - not quite the entire class.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I lived in Madison at the time and had some contact with him during his tenure. IIRC he flunked all the students not attending a Miles Davis concert that year - not quite the entire class.

That's very interesting. The director of the Wisconsin Union Theater for many years told me that he paid Miles Davis $3000 for a concert when Keith Jarrett was in the band. He was marvelling about how low artists' fees were at that time. I wonder if that was the concert.

A member of the music faculty at the University of Wisconsin told me that Cecil Taylor was fired not because he flunked his students, but because of his response at a faculty meeting. Apparently he was asked about flunking many students and he stated in an abrupt fashion that he absolutely refused to talk about it. Apparently this ruffled the wrong feathers.

The music faculty member told me that the draft was still going on, and if a male student flunked out of college, he stood a decent chance of going to Vietnam shortly thereafter--that was why some of the music faculty wanted to discuss the flunkings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you flunk out of college, rather than just failing one class, you've got other problems than Cecil Taylor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you flunk out of college, rather than just failing one class, you've got other problems than Cecil Taylor.

Truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you flunk out of college, rather than just failing one class, you've got other problems than Cecil Taylor.

...and the lottery was in place by then. Not a "get out of jail" card but it limited the chances.

IIRC, Cecil told the class to attend the concert and bring the ticket stubs in. He said something like if they couldn't be bothered to attend Miles in their back yard they failed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds reasonable to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John Litweiler came to Madison to write a piece about Cecil in Madison and it was published in Down Beat. IIRC he attended some ensemble rehearsals and a concert. It would be worth digging out.

When Cecil left for Oberlin, he recommended Bill Dixon as his replacement. When Dixon left, he recommended Jimmy Cheatham. I have stories to tell about all of 'em...............sometime when I have the time. Enough to say I ultimately have negative things to say about Bill and Jimmy, so maybe I won't share.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the meantime, could someone tell me what "IIRC" stands for? its the one web-shortcut I've never been able to figure out. :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IIRC = If I Recall Correctly

... or, sometimes, If I'm Really Calm

(just kidding on the last phrase)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the meantime, could someone tell me what "IIRC" stands for? its the one web-shortcut I've never been able to figure out. :huh:

...if I recall correctly?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all! :party:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What was the connection between Bill Dixon & Jimmy Cheatham? :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What was the connection between Bill Dixon & Jimmy Cheatham? :ph34r:

Don't have a clue. Maybe Jimmy paid him money. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They played together - Cheatham was on Intents and Purposes, and they rehearsed together in various aggregations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really! That's a connection I wouldn't make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That would be Mrs. Cheatham to you son.

f46250cuku1.jpg

Edited by Chuck Nessa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They played together - Cheatham was on Intents and Purposes.

Shit, that had fallen completely out of my head. I even talked to Jimmy about it. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...if I recall correctly?

Or alternatively, If I Remember Correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) I don't know if this is what Chuck is referring to, but I encountered Dixon at a few conferences in the 1980s and thought he was a bag of hot air - full of himself; on top of that he's a bore as a musician - IMHO

2) Funny about famous musicians teaching jazz history. Anthony Davis taught a jazz history course at Yale in the 1980s that I sat in on - he made a lot of historical errors, and I finally stopped attending, as I raised my hand so many times to make corrections that I felt like a wise-ass, even though I was not trying to be a know-it-all - I was just trying to set the record staight -

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) I don't know if this is what Chuck is referring to, but I encountered Dixon at a few conferences in the 1980s and thought he was a bag of hot air - full of himself; on top of that he's a bore as a musician - IMHO

Not what I was referring to. I think Dixon can be VERY interesting as a musician. I was talking about personal incidents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have y'all heard Jeannie Cheatham (I know, she ain't Jimmy) on this George Lewis date?

I've got that album (great stuff imo) but have never actually looked at the personnel or read the liner notes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2) Funny about famous musicians teaching jazz history. Anthony Davis taught a jazz history course at Yale in the 1980s that I sat in on - he made a lot of historical errors, and I finally stopped attending, as I raised my hand so many times to make corrections that I felt like a wise-ass, even though I was not trying to be a know-it-all - I was just trying to set the record staight -

<_<

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

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.