Recalling Cecil Taylor, an innovative Jazz Musician

Photo: Mr Cecil Taylor visited Inamori Foundation

Cecil Taylor passed away on April 5, 2018 at the age of 89.

Taylor was presented the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy in 2013 as “An Innovative Jazz Musician Who Has Fully Explored the Possibilities of Piano Improvisation.”

Taylor defied Jazz orthodoxy and explored an innovative method of the improvisation in late 1950s through 1960s. His score had no conventional musical note but alphabets. His performance style was extremely innovative.

He invented unique musical composition including percussive renditions often played with palms. His improvisation method dramatically expanded freedom in music expression and explored the new possibilities of Jazz.

“Free Jazz Movement” emerged out of various music experiments in late 1950s. Taylor, one of the leaders of the stream, collaborated with several improvisational artists in Europe through many joint sessions and gave an enormous influence in the world music scenes.

Taylor’s repertoire covers not only playing piano but dancing solo or duo, and producing many poems. He explored a way of creation beyond the framework of simple musician. In the workshop of the Kyoto Prize, Taylor collaborated with an actor Min Tanaka.

Quote: Cecil Taylor’s acceptance speech in the 2013 Kyoto Prize

“What we are most concerned with is not only a sound but a breath; a heartbeat. It is a rhythm that continues to inform our very existence.”

As we touch with his music born from his heart rhythm, the great musician Cecil Taylor may continue to deliver an everlasting life.

We pray from the bottom of our heart that his soul rests in peace.