In the year 2000, when Bologna was European Capital of Culture, AngelicA Festival, then in its tenth edition, invited Cecil Taylor to hold a concert at the Teatro Comunale - Opera House of Bologna: solo, with his piano (and his dance and his poetry readings) he opened an evening that ended with a rendition of the luminous piece Coptic Light by Morton Feldman performed by the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna, conducted by Jurjen Hempel.
This unusual juxtaposition (not in the history of the festival!) should not surprise: initially ascribed only to free jazz, throughout the decades Taylor’s music has been re-evaluated in all its formal complexity, and is nowadays recognised as one of the most singular productions in the musical landscape of the Nineteenth century.
The additional uniqueness of this release is that it adds a second CD, titled Rap, to the recording of that memorable concert, which documents the public meeting-interview that Taylor agreed to give in Bologna on the following day.
Moderated by the musicologist (and founding member of the band Stormy Six) Franco Fabbri, and transcribed and notated in its entirety in the forty pages booklet (in English/Italian) by the jazz critic and historian Francesco Martinelli, Taylor opened the meeting by reading a complex statement of his on the definition of music, inclusive of an explanatory glossary at the end. What came after was no less bewildering, with Taylor using the moderator’s questions as a springboard for an explosive tour de force of quotes and references: from the classical ballet stars Katherine Dunham and Maya Plissetskaya and the tap dancers Bojangles and Nicholas Brothers to the petroglyphs of the Hopi Native Americans and the Coptic manuscripts, the structures of Xenakis and the architect Calatrava, the Orisha deities and the dynamics of cell growth in bark, Derek Bailey and Stravinsky… Thus offering the listeners an experience almost equivalent to the extraordinary internal mobility of his concerts, and a precise grid of interpretation of the imaginaries he drew from to create his unique sound, scenic and vocal theatre.
The release is completed by No Matter What - Montage of Meanings, an homage that the director of the festival Massimo Simonini paid to Taylor in May 2020, editing together extracts of the concert and of the public meeting.