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Unit Structures

Cecil TaylorAudio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Price: $12.91 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 5 Songs, 1987 $6.45  
Audio CD, 1990 $12.91  
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Steps (Digitally Remastered)10:20$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Enter, Evening (Soft Line Structure) (Digitally Remastered)11:06$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Enter, Evening (Alternate Take) (Digitally Remastered)10:11$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Unit Structure/As Of A Now/Section (Digitally Remastered)17:47$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Tales (8 Whisps) 7:14$1.29  Buy MP3 

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Unit Structures + Conquistador + Spiritual Unity
Price for all three: $37.38

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note Records
  • ASIN: B000005HD4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,995 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Uncompromising and endlessly controversial, Cecil Taylor's percussive, intellectual approach to jazz composition, improvisation and piano remain largely outside the mainstream after more than 40 years. A classically trained pianist prior to discovering the music of Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Horace Silver, Taylor soon developed a percussive, clustered, impressionistic style that, while taking Monk as a harmonic starting point, charts a course straight for the stratosphere. Indeed, Taylor frequently seems to have dispensed with both melody and form, yet he's brilliant at conveying a broad complex of emotions, from introspection to tenderness to rage.

Unit Structures, through its use of two bassists (Henry Grimes and Alan Silva) and the two-reed front of Ken McIntyre and Taylor-mainstay Jimmy Lyons, suggests a "double band." Yet such structures become almost meaningless in Taylor's world: it is all about energy and exploration. Punctuated by percussive bursts and melodic eruptions, Unit Structures is, despite its title, impressionistic and whimsical, although devoid of all standard structures and romance. Instead, Taylor pushes his band to explore the limits of improvisation where nothing--neither form, nor melody, nor structure--is a given. Still challenging listening after nearly four decades. --Fred Goodman

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of form and improvisation December 8, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
It's hard to understand why anyone would be proud not to understand something and the listener from Seattle's remark that this music has no form proves he doesn't. What established Unit Structures as a classic is that Taylor paved the way for composition within the sphere of so-called free jazz. Most of this music is tightly ordered (Taylor gets remarkable sonorities from the two reeds especially) and the solos elaborate on the "unit structures." Maybe the trick for a new listener is not to listen too hard, but rather let the music wash over you until you can hear it with some familiarity. I've been listening to Taylor for more about 15 years and for me this album remains one of his most refreshing, enigmatic, and joyful works. Unfortunately, Taylor's liner notes aren't too helpful; for a better understanding of his music, check out Gary Giddins's Visions of Jazz and Ekkehard Jost's Free Jazz.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cecil's Best August 9, 2002
Format:Audio CD
This album, along with Taylor's other Blue Note Album Conquistador, mark the first moves by Taylor into his fully mature group style. Most of his work since these two ground-breaking recordings, has mined the veins he discovered in this period. Of the two albums, Unit Structures is the more tightly organized, all appearences to the contrary.
Unit Structures really has to be understood as a series of compositions. Unlike much of the New York avant-garde music of the 60's, this really isn't "free" jazz. Taylor's music is always highly controlled...just listen to how his piano "directs" the soloists and the rhythm section. His is not a cacophonous art, despite it's surface. Many of the works are based on predetermined modal scales, improvisations based on precomposed motives and themes, and obssessive development of tiny rhythmic cells. In many ways, Taylor shows influences of the European avant-garde (or influence on the European avant-garde) and yet the music always has a sense of it's jazz, blues and African roots. As such, I think Taylor may have been the most influential jazz composer of the 60's...paving the way for the experiements of Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill and other structuralists of the late 20th century avant-garde in jazz.
I think many others have hit on the way to listen to this music. Don't try to figure it out right away. Let the waves of sound wash over you first. As you listen more and more, the sense and structure of this music becomes more clear. This is music that can engage the head, but engages the heart first. It is almost shamanic music.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging but rewarding March 20, 2004
Format:Audio CD
Before going into the review I would like to say that the people who claim that this is just noise does not know what they are talking about. I have listened to free- (which this record really isn't) and avantgarde jazz extensively for the last ten years and there are undoubtedly some records that can be described as noise but this isn't one of them. Just because the music puts more emphasis on textures and improvisation than on conventional melodies and "swing" doesn't make it noise. You guys have a lot to learn!!!
About the music, this features one of the best groups Taylor ever led. Drummer Andrew Cyrille, bassists Henry Grimes and Alan Silva
and altoist Jimmy Lyons were "regular" (if that can be said about guys who rarely had the chance to perform in public)band members of taylors various groups over the years. Added to this nucleus was multi-reedist McIntyre and trumpeter Eddie Gale Stevens. Especially the former is crucial to the overall sound of the album. The basses were used in a very cool way:Grimes kept the pulse going, functioning as a "traditonal" bass while Silva was "freer" and played with a bow, often in a very high register, commenting on the soloists various movements.
The first song "Steps" features McIntyre on alto (Stevens does not play on this song). It starts with a very complicated stop-start theme before an almost boogie-woogieish piano line introduces a screaming, intense McIntyre solo. The energy level is VERY high with Taylor variously playing/changing patterns and improvising along with the soloists. The greatest part of the song is Taylors solo which starts as a piano-drums duet before kicking into overdrive with the basses joining in. Awesome!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By x
Format:Audio CD
Cecil Taylor's "Unit Structures" is an avant-garde classic that documents his creativity in 1966, showing him continuing to push the boundaries of creative music. The sonic intensity and tendency toward collective group improvisation is in full force here. To some extent, this is in contrast to the recordings he did for Candid just a few years earlier, which, although radical, were still largely based around "tunes." The musicians in Taylor's group are legendary in their own right: Jimmy Lyons is on alto; Alan Silva is on bass; and Andrew Cyrille is on drums, to name just a few of the masters who take Taylor's unit structures to incredible heights.
I have only given the recording four stars because this session is definitely in dire need of remastering. For such classic and incredibly executed music, it is unfortunate that the sound of this Blue Note CD is fairly muddy and lacking in color. It is almost maddening to hear Taylor's piano sound as though it is underwater. The drums sound dull and Silva's incredible bass playing lacks clarity on this CD. Try to find an original LP copy of this session, because it will sound much better than this CD, which is a poor representation of the session.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The music is typical New Thing from the sixties. ...
The music is typical New Thing from the sixties. High energy playing, but somehow chaotic and lacking a melody or strong harmonic structures. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pierre Taminiaux
5.0 out of 5 stars Different
While reading a book by August Kleinzahler, he mentioned Cecil Taylor. I had heard of him, but never did anything about it till now. What an improv. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Shale
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely addictive!
I can't really say what it is about this (and Conquistador), but they are absolutely addictive, I just can't stop listening to them!
Published on June 24, 2012 by Ripley I
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
This is the companion to Cecil Taylor's Conquistador. Unit Structures works in the same format, but without the great Eddie Gale on trumpet. Read more
Published on December 19, 2009 by Bill Your 'Free Form FM Print DJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Ground Breaking
This record is one of the seminal recordings in Jazz and perhaps one of the most interesting developments in music as a whole. Read more
Published on May 11, 2009 by Michael L. Lewis
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Nonsense
Cecil Taylor is one of those pianists that is so stubborn and consumed with himself that he just can't make good music much like when Coltrane went off the deep end, but only... Read more
Published on December 11, 2008 by Transfigured Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars unit structures indeed !
There should be no misunderstanding - Cecil Taylor meant it when he called this album "Unit Structures". Read more
Published on June 23, 2007 by nadav haber
4.0 out of 5 stars Good summation of the free Jazz spirit through piano
Although nothing here is as shocking as Albert Ayler's forays into structure/less jazz improvisation--nor as revolutionary as Ornette Coleman's hard-charging free-bop assault;... Read more
Published on June 1, 2007 by Jules McCaffery
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor indeed.
What a racket. Give this a miss. Like being dragged through a hedge backwards.
Published on November 23, 2005 by M. F. Tarrant
5.0 out of 5 stars Unit Structures
Free jazz isn't's awesome, so go buy some Cecil Taylor records...right now...your life depends on it.
Published on May 26, 2005 by WelcomeTheAbyss
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