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(FMP CD 098)
This solo performance finds pianist Cecil Taylor at the absolute height of his powers, moving seamlessly between delicate lyricism and swells of sheer intensity. Split into five tracks, "The Tree of Life" makes a good introduction while also extending the musical language of previous landmark solo albums like "Silent Tongues." Otherwise out of print!
"The Tree Of Life is a solo set that stands comparison with earlier peaks such as Indent (1973) and Silent Tongues (1975). Here he is evidently looking back beyond Monk and Ellington, although their traces are indelibly present, to Erroll Garner and Fats Waller. The five phases of this improvisation, lasting almost an hour and a quarter, are elaborations upon “Tea For Two” transforming that most banal of standards into an utterly absorbing experience. This Berlin concert sacrifices none of the excitement, while introducing sufficient subtlety and wit to establish it as one of Taylor’s most rewarding recordings." - The Wire
"The Tree of Life is a wonder to behold, showcasing every aspect of Taylor the solo artist, from the painful, bare-boned simplicity of his lyrical introductions to the hackles-raising, massively percussive complexity when he lets loose at full throttle. It’s beautifully recorded as well: The sound is as utterly crystalline as one of Taylor’s improvised opening themes. A masterpiece." - Jazziz
"This album asserts a lyrical side from the crafty pianist. Taylor scours the keys over a lengthy ritual of spellbinding and often singing lines. Like a rising tide, Taylor’s ebb and flow reaches further and further until we are fully submerged in his entrancing motif." - Coda
"What is one to say about another of Cecil Taylor’s solo performances? Like performances before it, this is torrential and brilliant, and like the others, in some nameless and immeasurable way, distinctly itself. This time it's the lyric moments rather than the percussive ones that dilate, giving this concert its special character, with moments of almost whimsical playfulness. As the long segments build, their individual moments seem overlaid on one another, resulting in a kaleidoscopic effect. This Berlin concert seems to be part of the natural and continuous evolution of his magisterial art." - Cadence
"This 1991 solo concert finds Taylor is a more reflective mood. His characteristic repeated motifs and leaping balletic gestures are here, but the occasional shock waves are cushioned by tender ballad interludes, isolated note clusters, and resonating tones. Taylor’s ability to sustain long periods of improvisation is uncanny, as he builds momentum from contrasting segments of cascading phrases, intensely focused filigree and staggered rhythms – some thorny, other soft as rose petals – with a broad range of dynamic, harmonic, and textural modifications that adjust the shape and thrust of the music as it progresses. He’s the Picasso of the piano." -Art Lange, Pulse
"The Tree of Life ranks among Cecil's most impressive albums." -Harvey Pekar, Jazz Times
Cecil Taylor: piano
Recorded live by the sound crew of the opera house on March 19th, 1991, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Mastered by Jonas Bergler.
Produced by Jost Gebers.