Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Deserted Island Opus: Frustrated Excellence

Cecil Taylor, the Avant Garde pianist who was one of the challenging and challenged practitioners of Free Jazz during the 1960s, tells of a time in his life when no one cared to hear his music and therefore he was without a recording contract once again, as well as, without any scheduled performances. During the day he worked at whatever nickel and dime jobs he could to survive, but at night he came alive when he gave the most exotic sounding pianist concert imaginable for an audience of one, himself.

What little I've heard of Cecil Taylor's music I've enjoyed immensely. Of course, when he was composing his perplexing free jazz pieces I was but a child and his music would have sounded like noise to my untrained or unchallenged ears. I wish I could have somehow have been in the next apartment or in front of his summer building as he nightly played his liquid songs of frustrated excellence, with the appreciation that 30 years of persistence have granted me in returning time and again to the austerity of Free Jazz.

Sometimes you have to live your life or work at your art or craft even though there may not be anyone to take note of what you have to give to life. If, like Cecil Taylor, you are the only one who wants to listen to or who is able to listen to a piano that is played upside-down, and inside-out, then do so and relish each quixotic note that your fingers, or your voice, or your words, or your actions produce. If there is no one to take note of the work of art that is your life or your art, then enjoy the serenity and the tranquil independence of your Deserted Island Opus, in spite of the absent audience. Someday they may very well regret that they were far away when the place to be was right by your side, enjoying as you enjoyed what you contributed to life.

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