Cecil Taylor speaks an uncommon, curious musical language.
Making his first local appearance in many years Saturday at the Variety Arts Center, the 58-year-old pianist communicated with his fellow players and his audience by banging out dense clusters and jack-rabbit fast lines, using clenched fists, open palms, elbows and fleeting fingers to do the job. The results were both ponderous and stimulating.
Taylor and his Unit--Thurman Barker, marimba; Leroy Jenkins, violin; William Parker, bass; and Freddie Waits, drums--offered a spontaneous affair that could have been viewed as musical din or as an example of how five men, without employing obvious guidelines, could vary the density of their sonic output.
The 90-minute exposition began with such sounds as faint clave claps, pizzicato bass and violin pluckings and murmured chants, all delivered from a dark stage to a dark hall. Activity increased as the lights went up and soon the fivesome was in full force, all playing simultaneously.