I can’t imagine any regular readers of this blog liking this Cecil Taylor album, Spring of Two Blue-J’s, but Googling will turn up quite a few passionate listeners, seeing as this outstanding record has been out of print for over thirty years. Since I engineered and produced the original recording, I thought it might be time fans had access to it. I’ll try and update this post as I get more materials and information, so you could consider it the definitive current release.
Update, September 2010: The tracks posted here are MP3 files from the original vinyl pressings, since the masters have disappeared into Cecil’s possession. But, for the passionate CT completists among you, I’ve finally gotten to digitizing the original tapes of outtakes and alternative mixes from this Town Hall “Return Concert” from 1973. You can find the posts here.
1. Side A, Part 1:
SPRING OF TWO BLUE-J’s 16:19
Cecil Taylor is one of the three acknowledged leaders of the progressive, free jazz movement of mid-20th century America. To a lot of folks he just plays noise and they find it hard to believe this music is composed, no less played. Me, I’ve always found it exhilarating, tonic even. It’s often been compared to putting your head under a crashing waterfall, and i suppose that might be true, but many of you might also find that a cathartic experience.
In 1973 Cecil was 44 years old and had been part of a culture imposed jazz exile as a visiting professor at Anitoch College in Ohio, when he burst back on the recording scene after a five year hiatus with the self-released Indent a live solo recording. All my fellow avant-garde followers were ectastic, played the record constantly on our radio shows, and started attending his now regular New York concerts. Somehow or other a since disappeared, nice enough jazz hustler named David Laura showed up in my life withEmmett Chapman (inventor of the Chapman Stick) and before long he was claiming first to be friends with the world famous Cecil Taylor and soon enough his manager. Yeah, sure.
Dave knew I was an aspiring record producer with a little access to recording equipment (harder to come by back in the day) and dragged me down to Washington DC to record Cecil at some fancy concert hall. I guess he really was the manager. The two-track stereo recording turned out pretty well and before I knew it I’d rustled up a four track recorder and microphones (probably from my friend Mark Seiden) and dragged my fellow fan and roommate Nick Moy down to New York’s famous Town Hall. We were memorializing what I seem to remember was billed as a triumphant “return,” a two part show (I don’t think there was any program or announcement of the compositions) of solo piano and quartet sections, with loyalists Jimmy Lyons on alto saxophone andAndrew Cyrille on drums (I later recorded solo records of Andrew too), and the newly added Sirone on bass). It was pretty nerve racking for me –I was a completely self taught “engineer”, never recorded before on four track– but it was a magical night. The Unit was on fire, nothing went wrong with the recording, and when I later mixed it at NY’s Generation Sound under the watchful guidance of legendary engineer Tony May (The Band, Chick Corea) I was certain we had something special.
Cecil funded a 1974 release of Spring of Two Blue-J’s on his Unit Core Records, Dave handled the manufacturing and “distribution” (maybe a bit of an overstatement) of 2000 copies and before any of us knew it Gary Giddins had named it Cecil’s finest recording in the Village Voice (and 29 years later he said “it offers an improvisational coherence his earlier work only hints at…”). It sold for $6.00US.
Unfortunately, as was often the case during this era of artist “independence” in the area of record releases, the record went out of print after that first pressing. Dave Laura completely disappeared (I didn’t hear any pleasant stories as to how) and I lost touch with Cecil (we last crossed paths in 1982 coming out of Mad Max: The Road Warrior, which not surprisingly he loved). I’m not sure if he remembered I’d recording Blue-J’s or if he had any idea I still had possession of the original four-tracks; he certainly didn’t acknowledge it. Until now, that was my last contact on Spring of Two Blue-J’s.
Here’s a few details.
From the back cover:
Side A, Part 1:
SPRING OF TWO BLUE-J’s 16:19
Side B, Part 2:
SPRING OF TWO BLUE-J’s 21:29
(Update, May 2009: The file I’ve had posted here was incomplete. These tracks are MP3s tranferred from a clean pressing of the original vinyl LP.)
For Ben Webster, died 10/73
Second set of a concert recorded at Town Hall, New York City, November 4, 1973, dedicated to Ben Webster.
Recorded by Fred Seibert
Assisted by Nick Moy & Alan Goodman
Mixed at Generation Sound, New York, guidance by Tony May
Cover photo by K. Abe
Produced by Bonitza Melodies (Fred Seibert) and A.D. Icklas aka David Laura
The back cover is covered with hand written poetry (an excerpt of “Word Placement”) by Cecil. The labels were designed by Frank Olinsky.
Here’s the program given out at The Town Hall before the concert. Note that Spring of Two Blue-J’s was only about one quarter of the music performed. I’m hoping to post the rest of the music recorded that evening soon.
Program for the Cecil Taylor Unit: Return Concert, November 4, 1973
Copyrights and masters owned by their respective owners. I’m posting many of my out-of-print record productions from the 1970s. If any of them are re-released, or the copyright owners object, I’ll delete the posts.