Sunday, December 11, 2005


"We had such a ball. We arrived at the hotel in DC, in the evening, and the gig's the next day. And he shows up a few hours after I do and knocks on my door and says 'Wanna hang?' I go to his room and he's got his boyfriend there, his manservant, whatever, and my wife's there with me, we're drinking champagne, and suddenly it's like 5 in the morning and I'm like, 'Cecil, I really gotta head to bed, we got the gig tomorrow,' and he says 'Yes, I'd like to meet at 9 o'clock.' I'm like, 'Cecil, it's 5 in the morning.' He's like, 'Yeah, we'll meet at 9, have some breakfast, go to the place, check it out, and maybe rehearse a little bit.' All right. And literally on the dot, 9 o'clock, there he was at breakfast, and we ate, and went straight to the space, which was the library of Congress, and we literally played for five hours straight. It was just the most amazing day. It was just insane. He's laughing hysterically, we're going through different ideas, and we literally went almost straight through for five hours. And I was exhausted by the end of this. And he was like, 'Let's go back to the hotel and get a little dinner, and then we'll do the gig.' So we did, and went right back to the gig, played two huge sets, then hung out all the next night, and I got on the plane a few hours after that. It was an intense 36 hours with Cecil Taylor. It was amazing, though, because he was so cool. He wasn't a drag, like, 'You've got to do it this way or that way.' He just showed me some of the notes he was working on, these cluster chords, and it'll just take this shape here, that shape there, okay, let's go. And it just turned into a big free thing, using very simple ideas. And maybe in that five-hour session during the day, when we were blowing through stuff, he maybe made two suggestions the whole time. 'More of this chord here,' or 'If I do that, you do this,' but very subtle. Most of the time it was just laughing, having a good time. He's one of those people that for years has been saying 'One of these days, we should do something,' and it's like, yeah, I'll believe it when you call me up. And then suddenly there it was, I got the call."

That's a quote from an interview I did with violinist Mat Maneri in about 2002, talking about his 1999 Library of Congress duo gig with Cecil Taylor. To my knowledge, they've never played together since. If you want to hear what the result of no sleep and five hours of rehearsal sounds like, pick up Algonquin and be prepared to have your skull torn open and your brain thoroughly massaged into a new and more enjoyable shape.

1 comment:

J T. Ramsay said...

My old roommate studied with Mat!