Cecil Taylor, Pioneering Free Jazz And Avant-Garde Pianist, Dead At 89
Cecil Taylor, a pianist who became an integral figure in free jazz and avant-garde, died yesterday at the age of 89 in his Fort Greene, Brooklyn home. The cause of death is not immediately known.
Born in Corona, Queens, in 1929, Taylor combined his classical training with jazz to create a style of playing that was prolific.
Taylor is associated with being one of the pioneers of free jazz style, with his 1962 live album Nefertiti, the Beautiful One Has Come, considered a landmark of the genre. Aside from being a musician, Taylor was also a poet and active dancer in the fields of ballet and modern.
“Cecil is of jazz, and also beyond it,” said Ben Ratliff, author and former jazz critic for The New York Times, speaking to NPR. “The thing that Cecil was doing in 1959 or whatever, the stuff that had basically a steady beat, but was pushing out on all sides with strange harmonies and strange dynamics — you know, we’re doing stuff now that’s more like that. And to think that at that point in the late ’50s, Cecil Taylor was just saying, ‘Yeah, this is the right way to play, this is the way to do it,’ is truly amazing.”