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Cecil B. DeMan

Posted 5/23/2001

I just read Daniel Piotrowski's review of the same Cecil Taylor concert that I attended (Feedback, May 16 ). I know it was the same one only because the second concert was at Shriver Hall and was a solo performance. Other than that I am not sure we both heard the same music.

True, the concert did not start at the same time that the ticket said it would, but hell, this ain't no Broadway show. Apparently while everyone else was patiently waiting and conversing in expectation (if this were a club, the second drink order would have been made), Mr. P.'s mind was consumed by his own self-importance and being made to wait. The resulting review--from a real jazz fan's point of view--was just a stupid, brainless hack job. I mean, why even mention a delay? Why waste our time with this on a one-off gig?

Is Cecil Taylor the same musician he was in the '60s? Of course not. Duh. Beethoven went through a few changes as well. His late string quartets are really complex, but like Cecil's music they are just as satisfying as long as you are not expecting them to be the earlier work. (Beethoven very nearly managed to invent swing time but, well, he was too Eurocentric, right?) I wonder if Mr. P. even stayed for the second set, which was even better than the first. He certainly couldn't have been there for the encore, which was utterly sublime. Cecil Taylor is one of the giants of 20th-century art. I can well understand how many people cannot come to grips with his challenging work (given the endless stream of musical aspirin pumped at us from every possible media conveyance).

I kinda wish you had sent someone even more clueless than Mr. P., for then I wouldn't have bothered to respond to the review. Instead, I have to defend Mr. Taylor against two very fine musicians: Matthew Shipp, a rising star who has made some astounding music but who is sometimes prone to lapsing into a kind of post-period dreariness, and one of my all time faves, Andrew Hill, who unfortunately in his later years tends to just grumble away at the piano. Cecil, despite his age, has never been dreary, sullen, or grumbly in his approach to his art. His vocalese is only "mumbo jumbo" to hacks who can't recognize a bit of Tuvan throat singing mixed with the tradition of scat singing, mixed with surrealism, mixed with, oh, hell, Shakespearean iambic pentameter, for all that it matters. Mumbo jumbo is to Cecil Taylor as Bugs Bunny is to George Bernard Shaw. So, in Bugs' own words: Sheesh, what a maroon!

Steve Estes

Broken Spanish
I just found your dining guide from February of this year (Eat, Feb. 28 ), and when I opened it I saw a full-page advertisement written, to my surprise and delight, mostly in Spanish, for the goofily named restaurant Loco Hombre. My delight was short lived. Under the heading (in English) "Authentic Mexican Cuisine," this is how the rest translates:

"To a menu as red as the Mexican landscape, the gaze not in addition that the restaurant of Man Mad. Of the one taquitos of shellfish to the one fajitas of vegetables to the one enchiladas of the chicken and a single red frijoles--our has to bosses of kitchen classically trained creating an experience he found rarely the exterior of Mexico. Man Mad."

I am not sure what kind of classical experience these bosses are creating, but if it is as authentically Mexican as this little essay, I have full confidence that it is a fascinating, if utterly culturally insensitive and ignorant, dining experience.

José Villarrubia

Correction: Due to an editing error, last week's Nose incorrectly identified Kenneth Blanchard as co-author of the book Who Moved My Cheese? Blanchard merely wrote the foreword; the book itself is entirely Spencer Johnson's fault.

Editor's note: Speaking of disappearing cheese, the ravenous seasonal features of this Sizzlin' Summer issue ate up most of the City Paper real estate this week. Don't worry (or, as the case may be, consider yourself warned)--all the regular stuff will be back next week in the regular place.

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