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Inprovisational Jazz Pianist Cecil Taylor Wins Kyoto Prize

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Listen to a 2012 NPR profile on Cecil Taylor, above.

 Cecil Taylor. Photo: © Stephen Laufer

Cecil Taylor, in 1998. Photo: © Stephen Laufer

Photo: Peter Gannushkin/downtownmusic.net

Photo: Peter Gannushkin/downtownmusic.net

Cecil Taylor has been a giant among jazz pioneers for decades. It’s great to see him handsomely rewarded by the Insamori Foundation in Japan, who announced that Mr. Taylor had been awarded the Kyoto Prize on Friday.

(NPR story: Cecil Taylor: The Pianist Who’s Also An Orchestra.)

Taylor, now 84 years old, joins an extremely eclectic and elite list of artists in the ‘Arts & Philosophy’ category, with winners in past years including: Pina Bausch, William Kentridge, Issey Miyake, Nam June Paik, Akira Kurosawa and John Cage. He had previously been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1991.

The prize money is 50 million yen, or approximately $510,000.

The Inamori Foundation wrote:
“One of the most original pianists in the history of free jazz, Mr. Cecil Taylor has developed his innovative improvisation departing from conventional idioms through distinctive musical constructions and percussive renditions, thereby opening new possibilities in jazz. His unsurpassed virtuosity and strong will inject an intense, vital force into his music, which has exerted a profound influence on a broad range of musical genres.”

 

Resources:
•  New York Times 2012 feature: Lessons From the Dean of the School of Improv
•  Inamori Foundation’s Cecil Taylor page
•  Jazz critic and author Gary Giddins: Interview on Cecil Taylor
•  Excerpt from the documentary: Cecil Taylor – All the Notes (Watch the full 70 min.)
•  Bulbs – Recorded in 1961

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