Automotive Holiday Deals Books Holiday Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Subscribe & Save Gifts for Her  Fine Art Deals Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Classics and Essentials in CDs & Vinyl Outdoor Deals on HTL
Your Amazon Music account is currently associated with a different marketplace. To enjoy Prime Music, go to Your Music Library and transfer your account to (US).
Buy New
& FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
Only 4 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
Unit Structures has been added to your Cart
Other Sellers on Amazon
Add to Cart
& FREE Shipping on orders over $35.00. Details
Sold by: cdgiveaways
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Unit Structures

25 customer reviews

See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
Audio CD, September 21, 1987
"Please retry"
$4.83 $2.65
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
Provided by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Terms and Conditions. Does not apply to gift orders.
Complete your purchase to save the MP3 version to your music library.

$25,000 Prime Sweepstakes: This Week Only
Listen to Prime Music for a chance to win $25,000 in Gift Cards. Play any song, station, or playlist to be automatically entered. No purchase necessary. See Official Rules for details and alternate method of entry. Ends December 5, 2015.
$10.08 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 4 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Unit Structures
  • +
  • Mosaic [LP]
  • +
  • Empyrean Isles
Total price: $40.98
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

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

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 21, 1987)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B000005HD4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,559 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Cecil Taylor Store

Visit Amazon's Cecil Taylor Store
for all the music, discussions, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1998
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.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Forbes on 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.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jakob Hellberg on 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!!!
Read more ›
3 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By x on January 7, 2004
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.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Topic From this Discussion
Duke Ellington Starting Point?
FAR EAST SUITE is incredible!

AFRO-BOSSA is darn good!

AND HIS MOTHER CALLED HIM BILL (Strayhorn tribute) is fabulous!!!

ALMOST ANY collection of Duke's stuff from the 1930s & '40s on the Columbia & RCA labels (Swing Era/danceable)
Aug 21, 2012 by Shemp-Masta-Flash |  See all 3 posts
Have something you'd like to share about this product?
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Unit Structures
This item: Unit Structures
Price: $10.08
Ships from and sold by

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Look for Similar Items by Category

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: vinyl pop