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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Andrew Cyrille / William Parker / Enrico Rava

2 Blues for Cecil

Review by Gary Hill

This album is an instrumental set played on flugelhorn (Enrico Rava), double bass (William Parker) and drums (Andrew Cyrille). The album is a tribute to pianist Cecil Taylor who passed away in 2018. This music is clearly jazz, and a lot of it (as the title suggests) has a blues angle. It leans in the direction of fusion, which lands it under prog at Music Street Journal. The thing is, it's also very much art music, which would put it there, too. However you classify this, though, it's invigorating ride that never chooses the safe and familiar road over the more experimental one.

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Track by Track Review
Improvisation No. 1
Running almost 11-minutes, the opener is the epic of the set. It comes in tentative, sparse and experimental. It works out toward more melodic zones as the horn comes over the top, but the percussive exploration underneath still holds sway for a while. The track gets into more traditional jazz zones later, but remains fairly fusion based and exploratory.
Here we get another powerhouse jam. I really love some of the soloing on this, and the prominent percussion does a great job of propelling it. There is a short drum solo mid-track, but that prominence is there throughout. This is perhaps a bit more mainstream and settled than the opener was, but it's no less dramatic or interesting.
Blues For Cecil No. 1
I really dig this cool exploration. It has a real blues angle to it, but it's quite freeform and expressive, too. This is very interesting and unusual artsy music. This is another extended piece. In fact, it's the second longest here. That makes it one of the most dynamic, as well. It does cover a lot of territory.
Improvisation No. 2
As you might guess, this is quite freeform and covers a lot of musical territory. This definitely qualifies as art music, but there is a blues angle to some of it for sure. There are some particularly sparse moments along this musical road, too.
Top, Bottom And What's In The Middle
Another track that leans on the sparse end, this has some individual instrument showcases through much of its duration.
Blues For Cecil No. 2
In some ways this is a little more mainstream. It has some pretty crazed jamming, though. It's another intriguing musical journey. I especially like the bass work on this thing. The bass solo section is a prime example of what I love about it.
Enrava Melody
We get some more classy instrumental work here. This is another track that has a tendency to focus on individual instruments at different points with others dropping away. While I like this, it's not one of the strongest things here.
This is quite a classy bluesy jazz journey. It has some prominent percussion and a bluesy angle to the track. There is a percussion solo late in the track.
Machu Picchu
This is a powerhouse jazz jam with a lot of crazed instrumental work.
My Funny Valentine

I'm not always a fan of this old standard. This version, though, is pretty amazing. It's slow moving and dramatic in terms of its explorations.

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