The Jazzcat

Rest In Peace: A Memory for Dear Brother Cecil Taylor at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

by on Apr.07, 2018, under News

Cecil TaylorRest in Peace


Oh my, Grace Cathedral is such a massive and superior place for the delivery of extraordinary blessings on high. It is gorgeous, stimulating and stunningly beautiful! After a day of trains to the City, back to Oakland and back to the City once again, to just be still was a thrill, but not my heart.




Blood flow would certainly be at an increased capacity once Cecil started to light it up.  The Cathedral was packed and luckily one of the ushers spotted a couple of great seats for me. The lights dimmed and the spotlight was on the piano. Cecil was not there but, you heard his voice peering from the unknown. Metaphysically sophisticated rants of poetic verbal reverberations start off as small waves and pass through the sea of beings getting greater as they reach the rear of the cathedral. Upon their return you are slightly surrounded by the single sound which has grown exponentially in clarity and complexity.


Into the light he appears still spewing thoughts, words, phrases, and philosophical equations that froze Dante bronze in his most popular position. They say great minds think alike but what did they say about those who think from different angles? Now if you can understand and breakdown the rhetoric of Taylor, then you really have it going on because this is Cecil’s world, and the best we can do is be gracious that we are invited guests. Don’t try to figure out and dissect the blessings, just sit back, be open, listen and let the love of the music fill your soul!
 Cecil makes his transition of languages and while the air is still ringing with the sustain of his poetry. The space is filled with audible thematic cinemas depicting one’s own personal images of past, present and future. The journey of the dance begins and although your body will not physically rise, cerebrally you will touch on lands and end up in the “Thinker” back on the same shores, but in a totally different state. There are galaxies unknown to man but perhaps Cecil has tapped into the source and is interpreting its signals. From thunderous chords to sheets of cascading notes, the relevance of form, structure and composition melt in to one continuous source of positive energy; like looking at the code in the Matrix. The speed by which the information is traveling through him to the piano is so fast that the sounds tax the system creating a vortex between reality and the pure source of inspiration. Yes, he is human but he is red pill plugged in!


 Cecil blasts off and so much is seen from the portal of his ship. Musically, he documents his hypothesis, provides sufficient data for his theories, logs the encrypted information in his journal and the beautiful cipher is enjoyed yet remains unbroken. The world exists as a drop of water and the entity gets smaller as the experience approaches infinity. There could be no more perfect of a place for the spirit, the energy and the music to connect; the euphoric crossroads of life, journey, destiny, reason and purpose.


Are all heads bowed, all eyes closed and all bodies swaying? No, but this particular state acts as conduit where the music directly infuses into the soul. The number one is a represented as a whole, the entire spectrum. But, while one has a beginning and an end, Cecil finds his solace in the exploration of the freedom between the two distinctly identical points!


You can practice for hours and days but there isno memorizing to play a piece of music. The practice is to have the energy and the strength to let the piece of music play you! The music is all too lovely and even though the form and structures are different, the in, out, up and down all pleasantly love and respect each other. If you played every note on the piano individually, there would be no bad notes, only good. Cecil is like a gourmet chef who mixes blends and spices all eighty-eight ingredients for health of body, wealth of mind, nutrients for the spirit all in an intriguing dish to pleasure the pallet.

The experience is like the staring into a changing image with respect to the music. As you listen, concentrate and feel the music, the images formulate and the ears open wide! If there is any type of distraction the image is instantly gone and you must go back to the beginning to find a new path to synchronization. I had my eyes closed and was totally engrossed in the music until, the young lady next to me, as fine as she was released her toxic Kimchi carbon monoxide fermentation in my direction and literally blew me out of the water. DRAKARUS!

As I recover I find that it is pretty evident that Cecil can fill the space with a voracity of chord clusters and plights of splendor that emphasize that the quartet is not missed. Solo that gets you so high! A standing ovation to Cecil but, I also applaud an audience of curious listeners who stayed in full force and did not leave as sometimes unbelievers do. And just as he appeared from the darkness so does he retire. The musical mystic that we are forever grateful for!





LeRoy Downs

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