Does anyone here understand Cecil Taylor?

I listen to a very broad range of music.

There is some music that I don’t enjoy, but I understand it.
Opera and Ornette Coleman, for example.

There is some music that I enjoy, but don’t totally understand it.
Some Thelonious Monk and later era John Coltrane, for example.

Then there is Cecil Taylor.

I’ve been trying to get a grasp on his music since the '60s album Unit Structures.
Occasionally, I will revisit him to see if I have “grown” enough to understand him.
I did this again yesterday. I watched a couple of clips on YouTube, including one where he speaks and sounds either profound, or profoundly stoned.

I must report that I am as baffled as ever.

For me he is the Jackson Pollock of music. That is, he has a solid reputation among his peers, but, personally, I’m still undecided whether he is a genius, or a gifted con artist.

So, if anyone out there “gets” Cecil Taylor, I would appreciate if you could attempt
to explain his music in any terms you choose (aesthetic, harmonic, any way at all).

First of all, not all of his music is/was so “out there” (meaning, so musically unpredictable, many would think it’s a three-year-old randomly banging away on a piano). The album *Looking Ahead!, *for example, is in a nice spot in the free jazz continuum, somewhere between, say, Rollins and Coleman.

But you’re talking about Cecil’s work as in the album For Olim. Okay, so it sounds random at first. But there are structures. He will noodle around, find some interesting sounding chord or scale, and milk it with different rhythms and sonic textures, then move on to some more random stuff. The song from that album “Living (Dedicated to Julian Beck)” is a good example. The random noodling is at least done with self-evident “chops” – his fingers are fluid, they can play runs, the chords themselves are interesting, usually consonant, occasionally dissonant in interesting but not annoying ways. They are “random,” but still well within the conventions of post-Stravinsky Western music.

This makes an interesting contrast to, say, the solo piano compositions of Pierre Boulez (or his incredible solo clarinet piece “Dialogue de L’Ombre Double”). In these pieces, I have trouble finding implied chords (e.g., via arpeggios) at all. This stuff is much more “out there,” really, than Cecil Taylor (or perhaps just so clever in how it “hides” the harmonic structures that I’m just not sophisticated enough to grasp them.)

Here, let me bump this for you!