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Cecil Taylor: All The Notes

In his pleasingly cockeyed docu, "Cecil Taylor: All the Notes," filmmaker Christopher Felver understands that a straight-ahead portrait of the grand master of free jazz piano would simply be wrong. Pic amounts to a visit with Taylor in his homey Gotham pad, with the artist speaking about his musical philosophy.

In his pleasingly cockeyed docu, “Cecil Taylor: All the Notes,” filmmaker Christopher Felver understands that a straight-ahead portrait of the grand master of free jazz piano would simply be wrong. More likely to encourage allies than win new fans, pic amounts to a visit with Taylor in his homey Gotham pad, with the artist speaking about his musical philosophy. Intercut concert and club dates break up the tempo and add to the sense that Taylor — now in his 70s — is as active and more rambunctious than ever. Pic will attract fests hip to jazz and hold its own in vid libraries.

Taylor is first seen musing about Santiago Calatrava’s fleecy architecture –a typical sign of the pianist’s famed eclectic interests, which extend from soloing, combo and small orchestra work to spoken word performance. Since the 1950s, Taylor has steadfastly repped jazz’s avant-garde, a fact reinforced by notable commentators Amiri Baraka, Nathaniel Mackey and Al Young. Taylor is downright nutty in conversation, but as a well-recorded UCLA Royce Hall solo gig demonstrates, his mastery of complex musical constructions remains astounding.

Cecil Taylor: All The Notes

  • Production: A Christopher Felver production. Produced, directed by Felver.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Felver; editors, David Giles, Nancy Main, Steve Kotton; art director, Mick Mordell. Reviewed at Pan African Film Festival, Feb. 16, 2006. Running time: 73 MIN.
  • With: <B>With:</B> Cecil Taylor, Billy Bang, Derek Bailey, Amiri Baraka, Elvin Jones, Nathaniel Mackey, Mal Waldron, Al Young, Thurston Moore.
  • Music By: