Photo by Bradley Buering

Photo by Bradley Buering


Legendary pianist and poet Cecil Taylor is widely recognized as a singular figure in the history of American music—a pioneer, along with John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, of improvised music and the free jazz that began to flourish in the 1950s and ‘60s and still sounds avant-garde today. At 84, he has been honored with countless awards, including a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has been named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

In 2012, Harlem Stage and ISSUE Project Room, in association with Anthology Film Archives and the Center for Jazz Studies Department of Columbia University, presented Cecil Taylor: A Celebration of the Maestro, which comprised programming in Manhattan and Brooklyn over two weeks in May.

Although Taylor resides in Brooklyn, he performs rarely in New York. The festival included his first performances in the city since 2009 and his first performance in Brooklyn in decades: solo performances at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse and ISSUE Project Room. Both venues also hosted Celebrating Cecil evenings with different lineups; artists for the Harlem Stage event included Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Amina Claudine Myers, and Amiri Baraka as part of the second annual Harlem Jazz Shrines festival. ISSUE Project Room’s Celebrating Cecil lineup included Thollem McDonas & Arrington de Dionyso and the William Hooker Ensemble.

Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue, Manhattan) screened rare performance footage of Taylor and the Cecil Taylor Unit.

Last updated: July 1, 2013