From Serene to Scintillating: Rasa and Cecil Taylor

It’s been a wild week for music both on and off Echoes. In the Echoes Living Room, Rasa made their first visit to Echoes. They’ve played live on the show twice before. In fact, their first live performance ever was on Echoes. But those performances were recorded in their Marin County Studio. Since they moved to the wilds of Door County, Wisconsin, they’ve been outside the Echoes travel spectrum. It was great seeing and hearing Hans Christian and Kim Waters. Hans laid down looping lines of Moorish classicism while Kim played the heavenly diva, imparting serenity through every melodic curve of her Bhajan chants. They played music mostly from their latest CD and the Echoes February CD of the Month, Temple of Love.

Temple of Love
They would go on that weekend to play at a yoga conference in Philadelphia. I had to skip that show so I could see a very rare Philly concert by Cecil Taylor and it provided quite a contrast. Cecil is an icon of the avant-garde who has been shredding pianos for about 50 years. The 77-year-old musician still has the jagged, angular sound that brought him notoriety in the 1950s. He had sheaves of crumpled paper that he would set up on the music stand, but no one was convinced he actually followed anything written on them. Instead, he seamed to unfold each piece from a spontaneous core, calling up a history of piano from stride to Thelonious Monk, Bartok to Cage, all fractured like a Picasso painting. You really appreciated the idea of the piano as a percussion instrument as Taylor throttled the instrument with precision flourishes, stabbing chords and keyboard length runs that were like miniature staccato conversations. Cecil isn’t for the feint-hearted and on the surface is miles apart and infinities away from Rasa. But both artists carried you on epic journeys. It’s just that in the case of Cecil Taylor, it was exhilarating, but only if you find musical bungee jumping exhilarating. Strap me in and push me off.

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