Friday, June 21, 2013

Kyoto Kudos To Cecil Taylor

Congratulations are due to pianist Cecil Taylor, recipient of the Kyoto Prize from the Inamori
Foundation for "fully exploring the possibilities of piano improvisation." As his citation reads:

"One of the most original pianists in the history of free jazz, Mr. Cecil Taylor has developed his innovative improvisation departing from conventional idioms through distinctive musical constructions and percussive renditions, thereby opening new possibilities in jazz. His unsurpassed virtuosity and strong will inject an intense, vital force into his music, which has exerted a profound influence on a broad range of musical genres."

I am hard pressed to think of a living artist who challenges me as much as Taylor, and who does so on so many levels. His music has brought me tremendous joy, and caused me to think hard. What more can you ask of an artist?

I have written frequently of him here, beginning with this post.

The Kyoto Prize brings with a cash award of some USD$500,000. As someone who has sometimes struggled to sustain himself as a creative artist working on the margins, no one deserves this kind of reward more than Taylor. Quirky, confounding (especially if you've ever tried to book him) and justifiably demanding, Cecil Taylor is a treasure, and it is good to see him recognized while he is alive to enjoy it.

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