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November 12, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-11-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Taylor stages a

Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG

Pianist Cecil Taylor performed three hour-long compositions with his group
Friday night at Power Center.
Denver takes La'nsing
rowd bak hoe agoain

By R.J. SMITH
It is a common, easy-to-make
argument, and yes, it is a valid one. It
goes something like this: For a
reviewer to criticize blindly so-called
"commercial" artists who have "sold
out" is no awesome feat, and to do so is
idealistic and stupid.. But now that I
have blasted Chuck Mangione, a
performer as vapid as they come
nowadays, and am about to praise to
High Heaven "avant-garde" musician
Cecil Taylor, I should probably for-
thrightly address all those who would
say I am snuggling up to anything new
or esoteric, while putting down
anything popular: all of you can eat my
shorts.
When a musician makes money-lots
of it-by performing dull,
unimaginative music at the expense of
those artists who should be heard but
might never be, that musician deserves
to be panned. Likewise, an avant-garde
artist must also be critically appraised
in a clear light, and not be rubberstam-
ped a "genius because he refuses to
comply with the mainstream.
The ancient Chinese philospher
Chuang Tzu tells a story about a fan-
tastic butcher that is appropriate here.
"A cook was cutting up an ox for Lord
Wen-hui,"r wrote the sage. "At every
touch of his hand,every heave of his
shoulder, every tread of his foot, every
thrust of his knee, skin and bones split
apart, making a distinct noise."
After the cook put down his chopper,
he told the Lord, who had marvelled at
his skill, "When I first began to cut up
oxen, all I could see was the ox itself.
After three years, I no longer saw the
whole ox. Now I get at it with my spirit
and do not see with my eye. My sense
perception stops but my spirit works
volunatrily."
The music of Cecil Taylor seems not
to be guided by his eyes, his immediate
perceptions, so much as by his spirit. It
is effortless, never static. And nothing
is wasted.
PIANIST CECIL TAYLOR, who has
been playing since the 1950s, makes
music that is certainly "different." And
after hearing his show Friday night at
Power Center, "good" would be too
base a label for him. Appearing with an
often brilliant supporting trio, Taylor
played for about three hours and per-
formed only three solo pieces. It would
be inaccurate to call Taylor a "jazz"
artist, for there is as much classical
training visible in his playing as thereis
evidence of the blues. Taylor creates a
small sonic world for the listener; the
music sounds like no one else's, and, in-
deed, evokes emotions deeper and less
resolved than most other jazz.

THE THREE PIECES followed much
the same course: in the opening
violinist Ramsey Amin, alsto
saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, and the
trumpet player (whose name I didn't
catch) would, either individually or in
ensemble, introduce some form of a
melody and toss it around a bit with
Taylor. Then, they took off, and from
there the number could go anywhere.
The group members wandered on and off
the stage apparbntly at whim, and the
tempand mood of the songs seemed to
drift as if by some telepathic consensus.
As musicians, Taylor's unit fared
generally well, and in an assortment of
ways. Lyons exhibited great mastery
when fronting the group, and with
Taylor and drummer Ken Tyler sup-
porting him, the ensemble spun off
massive curtains of swirling sound. The
trumpeter had more difficulty melding
with the group. Although his solos were
frequently inventive, if much less so
than Lyons', he often seemed unable to
support another musician for any
length of time, and would even walk off
stage while the rest of the players im-
provised as a group. Drummer Tyler's
stamina and general rhythmic abilities
were superb.
IN THE LONG run, however, it was
violinist Amin who pleased the most,
supplying the most successful counter-
point to Taylor's piano work. Where
Taylor rarely sustains notes until they
fade naturally, and typically throws off
tight, quick runs, Amin used his bow to
sustain chords and savor melodies.
But fpr all thq group's fine playing,
how could anyone but Taylor be the star
of the performance? He played almost
continously throughout the three-hour
show, and, remarkably, seemed to
muster more energy as the evening
went along. Surely, Vladimir Ashenazy
was not the only piano virtuoso in town
Friday evening; Taylor commands

By TIMOTHY YAGLE
and HAROLD BIDLACK
F Special to te Daily
DETROIT-During the basketball
season, Earvin Johnson fills Jenison
Fieldhouse with his own brand of
magic. Friday night, a different kind of
magic filled the archaic structure.
Henry John Deutschendorf (a.k.a. John
Denver) and his cast of nine incredible
back-up musicians electrified 10,000
people with two-and-a-half hours of his
usual brand of soft pop music, along
with a few new twists.
After greeting Denver en-
thusiastically, the crowd sat back and
relaxed as. he strummed through a
collection of his older, slightly less
familiar material, with "Today" and
"Rippling Water" mixed in. It wasn't
until about one-third of the way through
the show when "Johnny B. Goode," a
song from his soon-to-be-released LP
and Denver's only rock and roll effort to
date, got the crowd buzzing. He looked
fairly comfortable playing it and,
although it -didn't have all the zest of
sChuck Berry's version, he performed it
with a vibrance that made it unique and
enjoyable.
'RIGHT AFTER "Toledo," Denver,
who has a great rapport with his
audiences, related a story about singing
thel song in Toledo, during his arduous
,concert tour last spring when he did 57
concerts in 64 days. He said all but a
few people were singing-along with him
and they all seemed to enjoy it. It
wasn't until after the show when a han-
dful of people came up to him and ex-
pressed thier displeasure with the song
and found it offensive. He defended it to
the core. But he told us jokingly Friday
,night that it was "a terrible song" and
he included it in his concert repertoire
to "lower the quality of the show." This
raised some laughter from the crowd.
Then, before what sounded like a side
from his "greatest hits" album, Denver
told us the story of how he met Mr. and
Mrs. Frank Sinatra and how Sinatra
asked him to write a "saloon song," as
he called it. The result was a sad but
beautiful tune called appropriately,
'Sad Song," about being alone late at
night in a bar with the weight of the
world on your shoulders.
SURROUNDING HIM on his
revolving stage, Denver was more than
ably backed by a set of musicians
whose credentials would make any
music professional envious. His lead
guitarist and keyboardist were in
Elvis's band and his wind section, a
manolin and fiddle player have suppor-
ted such prominent artists as Em-
Peop le
are Living
There.
A Playby
Athol Fugard
University
8 X Mrodukc Ktion
Nov. 15-18
8p.m.

myLous Harris and Linda Ronstadt in
the studio. Female vocalist Renee Ar-
mand-Horn was in top form most of the
evening, although she did falter a few
times near the beginning.
Denver not only had these nine,
musicians vocally supporting him, but
on many of the songs, one could hear
the entire fieldhouse singing, including
the time when Denver was alone on
stage and the back-up vocals in
"Toldeo" were sung.
Denver ended his 20-odd song concert
with "Calypso," "Come Fill Me
Again," and "Sunshine On My
Shoulders." He thanked everyone con-
nected with the tour-everyone from
his production company to the
fieldhouse ushers and the folks who
s'erved him dinner before the concert.
After listening to John Denver joke
and sing, we walked' away very
satisfied. Denver ,can still enthrall. an
audience. He hasn't lost the magic that
has thrilled his millions of fans around
the world.

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, November 12, 1978-Page 5
jazz marathon
tremendous technique up and down the This reviewer began to drift off
keyboard, pounding out bafflingly during the second piece, and without
complicated chord progressions and close attention the numbers could
occasional quicksilver single note runs. easily seem boring and intolerably
long. And yet, asked myself, what does
FLYING OFF HIS stool time and Taylor expect from his audience?
again to reach the far end of the piano, Perhaps two intermissions, instead of
aylor oud reach bk arnd out a, one, would have been in order. But one
Taylor would reach back and pull out a must not let Taylor's signlemindness
snippet of a jazz line, or a quasi- about his music stand in the way of en-
classical passage, only to instantly re- joying it. For instead of offering his
work it (which is not to say simply em- audience spineless music, Taylor issues
bellish it), stripping the fragment down a challenge: show some effort, put
and integrating it into the piece's tex- some work into listening to the music
ture. Time and again, solos were han- I've toiled over, and I assure you you
dled in this manner; ideas were not will see new things. It is a challenge
clearly stated andithenshaped worth taking up.
over-they were introduced as
fragments, and quickly atomized,
pummeled into part of the next phrase
Taylor is obviously a fairly inaccessible
artist. He is not one to make con- Norma G
cessions to his audience so that the
largest number of people hear the PENCHANSKY
music. (This, in the process, becomes
the source of a struggle-to hold on to
his individuality.) Taylor never spoke Recent SCulpture
to the crowd, and perhaps half the & Drawings
audience had left before the show en-
ded, most of them casualties of the November 1-22
hour-long compositions. Tue-Fri. 10-6
Reception, SetSun. 12-5
November 3,'7-9 764-3234
EDVARD MUNCH
WASHINGTON (AP) - "Edvard
Munch: Symbols and Images," an
exhibition of work by the Norwegian
expressionist, opens at the National
Gallery of Art Nov. 11 and runs through
Feb. 19,1979. FIRST FLOOR MICHIGAN UNION
Earn 8 CeisTi Spring
in NEW HAMPSHIRE
THE NEW ENGLAND
LITERATURE PROGRAM
MASS MEETING for more information
TUES. NOV. 14 PROF. WALTER CLARK
8pm Dept. of English
229 Angell Hall 764-0418 or 761 -9579
and his Orchestra
Tusawith JOE WIL LIAMS
TuedaDecember 58:00 PM.I
Hill Auditorium
TICKE TS GO ON SALE
WEDNESDA NOV 005
$3. ,$4. ",and$550at the Michig"nUnion box
_. f " 16 3" 5 3" No "6a okd n

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both Discount Records.
For further info: 763-17454
This co" r made possiblem part by " grant "ro the National
Endowment for the Arts A C
!TY rc :USICAL'8OCIETY presen t
ra Strzelecka makes her U.S. debut
ed authority on harpsichord music,
ropean ancuinl muhsic festiva/s. For
ewill play the music vi anon vinous ,..,.
V and the music
1, John Bull,
Merula. General
urton To wer,
x oh/ice which
he perf ormnance.

for the first time In Ann Arbor-...
0 0
DEC. 7, 8, 9
8:00 P.M.
DEC. 10
2:00 P.M.
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
_------------- ------
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GUEST ARTIST SERIES

IIVEkSI
Bai
Strzi
harpsi
Polish harpsichordist, Barba
with this performance. A not
she is a frequent soloist at Eu
this first U.S. appearance sh
composers of/the 16th centur
of de Cabezon, William Bvrd
Henry Purcell and Tarquinio
admission tickets are $4 at Be
wee"da vs 9-4:30 or at the o
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