Avant-garde jazz pianist and composer Cecil Taylor died at his Brooklyn home Thursday evening. He was 89. A polarizing figure during the jazz heyday of the 50s and 60s due to his frenzied and untraditional playing style, Taylor helped to pioneer the free jazz genre along with Ornette Coleman. His avant-garde style has influenced countless musicians and left an indelible mark on the jazz as a whole.
Let’s face it, Cecil Taylor’s music isn’t what you put on the hifi to unwind after a long day at work— google the pianist and composer and you’ll find words like frenzied, cacophonous, and “acquired taste” used to describe his particular brand of free jazz, a genre he pioneered – along with Ornette Coleman—during late-’50s performances at the legendary Five Spot Café on the Bowery.