This 2-CD reissue highlights pianist Cecil Taylor’s "Unit" in rather exemplary fashion. On disc one, the musicians perform a series of duets and solos, prior to Taylor’s emergence, serving as a prelude to fiercely enacted group dialogues. With that, the instrumentalists’ evolve their respective musical spirits while creating a bit of tension and release. And of course, a slight theatrical force looms in anticipation of the pianist’s presence. With these irrefutably, powerful lengthy pieces recorded at a 1978 festival in Stuttgart, Germany., Taylor and his band perform in sub-groups and as a unit.
The music and rhythms executed here, pretty much sum up the pianist’s forte. Whether Taylor is engaging in playful duet frameworks or dictating the pulse with saxophonist Jimmy Lyons, the ensemble’s synergy is nothing short of remarkable. All the members get their spots, featuring performances such as violinist Ramsey Ameen’s angular staccato lines and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson’s, bombs away, polyrhythmic approach. The tracks are simply identified by the solo, duets or group frameworks. On track four (Cecil Taylor Unit), Jackson’s pulsating bass drum patterns provide a monstrous undertow for the group’s perpetual motion type escapades. Needless to say, Taylor’s glistening crescendos and oscillating chord progressions provide a stepping stone for the ensemble’s thrusting dialogues and odd-metered movements. Moreover, they often whip matters into abstractly inviting, mind-bending frenzies. (Essential.... )