Silent Tongues Live At Montreux '74

Cecil Taylor

ORG Music, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


This legendary solo piano set from Cecil Taylor is back in print again after nearly 40 years of obscurity, and it's even remastered and pressed on gold smoke color vinyl if you're lucky enough to get an early copy. A brilliant exercise in free jazz, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Silent Tongues: Live At Montreux '74 is a five movement collection along with a pair of encores that few, if anyone, could replicate.

The opening track, “Abyss (First Movement) Petals & Filaments (Second Movement) Jitney (Third Movement),” spends 18 minutes showcasing Taylor's exceptional piano prowess that moves from calm and sparse to busy and manic. It occasionally gets aberrant enough to threaten to come off the rails completely, but always finds its way back to controlled melody. “Crossing (Fourth Movement) Part One” finishes Side A with a seemingly more serene display, but shifts into calculated chaos with piano acrobatics so quick it almost doesn't seem human.

Side B is equally perplexing and charming, with the unimaginably skilled sounds of “Crossing (Fourth Movement, Part Two),” where it often seems like multiple pianos are being played at once, and “After All (Fifth Movement),” which strategically mixes subdued moments amid the sophisticated fury.

The two shortest compositions end the affair, but are certainly no less impactful. “Jitney No. 2” again provides incredible manipulation of sound, while “After All No. 2” allows much beauty to radiate amid his proficient playing.

Taylor passed away just last year at the age of 89, and he left behind an impressive catalog of music. This is an important piece to not only his legacy but the free jazz subgenre in general, as he certainly took a uniquely iconoclastic approach to playing his instrument, and that's evident more than ever on this masterpiece that transcends mere music and moves into art of the most esteemed kind.

Rating: A-

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