CD Review: “Conquistador!” by Cecil Taylor

Cecil Taylor’s Conquistador! release in 1966 on Blue Note Records

This follow-up recording to Taylor’s first Blue Note record, Unit Structures, Cecil Taylor expands his group to a sextet made up of two bassists, Henry Grimes and Alan Silva; two horns saxophonist Jimmy Lyons and on trumpet, Bill Dixon and longtime drummer, Andrew Cyrille.

The music is unrelenting and unccomprimising.   But does not stay the same over time: those sections featuring Dixon as lead voice are especially subdued.  The record is considered a masterpiece and well worth hearing, that is, if your taste in jazz ventures beyond hard bop into the territory occupied by John Coltrane’s late quartet.

The album is made up of two (when issued as an lp, side-long) group improvisations.  This music is somewhat different, however, from Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, in that there is more dynamic and textural range.   Taylor drops out from time to time to allow a soloist space to create his own path through the sound, and Cyrille, will spend time playing just the cymbals or using brushes, offering needed contrast to other sections where the energy level rises to high intensity.

Despite the high regard this record garnered upon its release in 1966, Cecil Taylor did not release another record until 1973.

Can be heard on Rdio | MOG

Can be purchased at Amazon

Similar recordings:

Paul BleySweet Time

Joseph JarmanMagic Triangle

Marilyn CrispellLive in San Francisco

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