FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Bert Noglik


LOOKING (Berlin Version) CORONA

The simultaneity of the diverse in the process of perception. CORONA - a strange minimalism and yet at the same time a superabundance of being. Onward surge and slow retreat. Look, listen carefully: There's a strong element of peace to be found in the racing motion. Pressure of time or timelessness?

Dot and line in relation to space. Inner sonority. Associations with Kandinsky or the lava of poetry, with legends from Guatemala, stories told by Guinean griots or the wise sayings of the Hopi. Music as a picture puzzle: Absolute power and gentle sensation, intense concentration and the feeling of relaxation. Simultaneously existing perspectives and dimensions. State of awareness. Growing insight into the futility of comparison. CORONA - music as a state of being and a process.

Once more the experience: Music which does not fit into any framework, accessible only to those willing to cast aside the mould of convention. Communication with Cecil Taylor's music means growing open-mindedness, opening oneself, a sudden increase of sensual perception, the rediscovery of - or the confrontation with - the intensity of being. The high demands of the music cannot be met by formal education, but only by doing away with the mental barriers between recognising and feeling. Anyone relaxed and collected enough to open himself to these demands will find ready access to the sounds.

CORONA. Strings, wood, metals and skins. Bowing and beating. The means borrowed from various cultures, refined, individually interpreted, collectively related one to another, intensified, expanded. In Cecil Taylor's hands the piano - the instrumental embodiment of European musical development, the result of the differentiation and categorisation of sounds - becomes an instrument transcending its own purpose. The pounding of keys and striking of strings - reverting to elementary-expressive musical communication, a far-sighted treatment of nuances which had been worn by time, or never before heard in this way.

The amalgamation of components and Tony Oxley's way of playing give the percussion - that genuine development of jazz music which probably has its roots in all world cultures - the status of a newly created, or at least personally newly defined instrument with a percussive vocabulary able to create sublime sounds and tense phrasing.

The interweaving of the strings: Violin, violoncello and double-bass. Once again the interplay of various tonal images and cultural dimensions: vocal-melodious phrase, pointillistically arranged accents and sounds aiming at a wide-reaching effect. This has nothing to do with the violin virtuosos of the symphonic field or with the folk-fiddlers or the bowing tradition in tribal cultures. Or maybe it has something to do with all these, transformed in that world of sound and sensitive awareness, deeply rooted in jazz, which has once again succeeded in breaking through its clichéd crust. Breakthrough by the gentle elemental force of natural development and the knowledge of the interaction of tradition and revival.

CORONA is not just THE FEEL TRIO - Cecil Taylor, William Parker and Tony Oxley (see LOOKING [Berlin version] THE FEEL TRIO, FMP CD 25) - with the addition of Harald Kimmig and Muneer Abdul Fataah. The tonal balance and mode of simultaneous interaction, not to mention the psycho-musical forms of communication, are altered by the concentration of string instruments. Despite the increasing tendency to overlap, intensify and blend the various levels of sound, the listener is still aware that the musicians are constantly reacting to one another musically - as a contrast to the impression made by some of Cecil Taylor's musical processes involving orchestral formations.

Cecil Taylor's affinity to the strings - one recalls not only the double-bass players, but also his joint ventures with the violinists Ramsey Ameen and, later on, Leroy Jenkins - can almost certainly be explained by the tonal and rhythmic diversity of string instruments. The fact that Muneer Abdul Fataah called his own group "Rhythm String Band" reveals a likeness of intent. After all, one must not forget that the keys, the piano, which Taylor plays both in the traditional manner and percussively, is essentially a string instrument.

CORONA - Improvisation on a mutual level. As all involved are of equal importance, no-one need be specially mentioned. It is Taylor however, who sets the pace, whether it be with motifs which he introduces and which are then picked up and expanded on, or whether it be his general musical style which tends to accept anything but mediocrity. With a firm touch, a romantic turn or a direct delve into the instrument's very soul. The decisive factor is not the material but rather the message it contains or-as Taylor would say - the magic.

Kandinsky wrote, about painting not music: "The pure sound comes to the fore. The soul develops into one abstract vibration . . . I call the experience of the "hidden soul" - of all things which can be seen with the naked eye, through a microscope or through a telescope - the "inner sight". This permeates the hard shell, the outer "form" to reach the heart of the objects and enables us to experience and absorb the very pulse of the matter with all our senses. The artist uses this as the seed from which his work grows. Unconsciously. Dead material comes to life. And what is more: the inner "voices" of each individual thing do not ring in isolation, they ring out together." To risk a jump from one subject to a very different one: Asturias wrote, referring to the myths of the Mayas: "Near . . . far . . . it was the same . . . life. Survival. Passionate, glowing, real life. The secret gained. Living means regaining the secret of life."

When listening everything becomes pure sound. The failure of analogies becomes apparent. The futility of comparison. The inadequacy of description. State of awareness. Looking. Listening.

Translation: Margaret Neuendorf

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