Cecil Taylor / Tony Oxley
Leaf Palm Hand

[Jazzwerkstatt, www.records-cd.com]

As part of his residence in Berlin in 1988 [which resulted in the Live in Berlin '88 box set on the FMP imprint], Cecil Taylor played a number of duets with percussionists. Günter Sommer, Paul Lovens, Louis Moholo, Han Bennink were amongst those. The fifth CD in order of appearance in the box set was one Taylor shared with Tony Oxley. "Leaf Palm Hand" saw a logical progression in Taylor's choice for his dream percussionist. Staying within the realms of Europe [the workshops involved European musicians], Oxley fits the mould perfectly. As the two feel each other out, Taylor proposes a few key strokes at a time, while Oxley responds with cymbal heavy crashes. Taylor's dance-like tickles on the ivories turn into full blown gale-force attack early on. Throughout the course of two lengthy numbers [totaling just over an hour], the duo establish a rapport. It's not just a rapport of two individuals who've not played before, but a common language that is established. While Taylor has certain expectations of his percussionist counterparts, he never makes that apparent while performing. He expects his partner to be able to read his musical direction while the music is being produced live. The give-and-take coherence these two launch is stated on a nearly telepathic level. A couple of brief piano pieces at the tail end of the record encapsulate the atmosphere. Nothing is left to chance and the two make it sound as if that particular night in Berlin twenty years ago they had a blast. Taylor would go on to bring Oxley into his Feel Trio, which had its beginnings shortly after the proceedings in Berlin wrapped up. Only special relationships are born out of coherent musicianship and perfectly matched skills. Flawless!

- Tom Sekowski


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