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About this conference

The late Cecil Taylor was a giant in the arts, a unique figure not only within jazz, but one of the most genuinely protean artists of our times. This 4-day conference aims to build upon Taylor scholarship in jazz and American music studies, and also to expand it into a broader range of disciplines in order to reflect more accurately the scope of Taylor’s own praxis. The conference will celebrate Cecil Taylor the educator by hosting three concerts, including a large ensemble workshop led by bassoonist/improviser Karen Borca, who will pass on a composition dictated to her by Cecil Taylor.


Click here to RSVP for Unit Structures: Art of Cecil Taylor Conference.

This 4-day conference is free and open to the public, but please RSVP if you plan on attending. To RSVP for any of the three concerts on Thu, Fri & Sat, please click the RSVP links below in the Schedule.


Wednesday, Oct. 23 at the Graduate Center, CUNY, the James Gallery, 6:00-8:00pm

Poetry Listening Session with Brent Hayes Edwards and Fred Moten in the James Gallery.

Thursday, Oct. 24 at The Graduate Center, CUNY, 7:30pm-9:30pm

Brooklyn College, Studio 312 Roosevelt Extension
9:00-12:00 pm, Big Band rehearsal

12:00-1:30 pm, Lunch

1:30-4:30 pm, Big Band rehearsal

The Graduate Center, Elebash Recital Hall
5:00-7:00 pm, Registration at the Elebash Lobby

7:30-9:30 pm, Opening & Andrew Cyrille/William Parker/Matthew Shipp Concert
Click here to RSVP to this Concert.

Friday, Oct. 25 at The Graduate Center, Elebash Hall, 9am-9:30pm

Session 1: the 1950s & 60s in context

9:00-9:30 am, Eric Charry, “The Development of Cecil Taylor’s Musical Language in the 1950s and 1960s”

9:30-10:00 am, Lewis Porter, “The Consistency of Cecil Taylor’s Outlook From His First Recorded Interview in 1959 Through the Years”

10:00-10:30 am, Christopher Meeder, “‘I listen every day to Marvin Gaye’: Self-Characterization, Formal Education, and Cultural Affiliation in the Formation of Cecil Taylor’s Early Musical Style”

10:30-11:00 am, Matthias Mushinski, “Critical Amplitudes: Cecil Taylor in Jazz-Hot and Jazz Magazine (1965-1968)”

11:00-11:15 am, Break

11:15-12:00 pm, Fumi Okiji, "Cecil's non-sensuous standard"

12:00-1:30 pm, Lunch

Session 2: genealogies, becomings, gestures

1:30-2:00 pm, Chris Stover, “‘As gesture jazz became…’: the genealogical role of Cecil Taylor’s standards”

2:00-2:30 pm, Anthony Caulkins, “Musical Gesture in Analysis: Gesture-Class as a Formal Structure”

2:30-3:00 pm, John Rufo, “Geologies of Cecil Taylor+Billie Holiday+Mary Lou Williams”

3:00-3:15 Break

Session 3: listening, structures, intermediality

3:15-3:45 pm, Charles Sharp, “Structures becoming / Becoming structures”

3:45-4:15 pm, Jeff T. Johnson, “Indent: Body as Paragraph”

4:15-4:45 pm, Magdalena Dukiewicz, “Equilibrium”

4:45-5:15 pm, Scott Gleason, “Re-sounding Collaborative Improvisation in Morgan O’Hara’s LIVE TRANSMISSION: Movement of the Hands of Cecil Taylor”

5:15-5:30 pm, Break

5:30-5:50 pm, David Grubbs, “‘The Scented Parabola’: Occasions of Cecil Taylor’s Poetry”

5:50-7:30 pm, Dinner

7:30-9:30 pm, In Sonic Discourse with Cecil Taylor’s Unit Structures Concert
Click here to RSVP for this concert.

The program will feature performances by Lewis Porter, Sandow Sinai, Chris Stover with Tanya Kalmanovitch, Chloe Rowlands, & Sarah Schoenbeck, Imri Talgam & Michelle Yom, and Mayakov+sky Platform with Sean Benjamin, Dusan Chae, Nicholas Komodore, and Kevin CK Lo.

Saturday, Oct. 26 at Brooklyn College, Buchwald Theater, 9am-10pm

Session 4: memories, decoding, improvisation

9:00-9:30 am, Jeff Schwartz, “The Influence and Significance of Cecil Taylor’s Letter Notation: From the Mills Archives”

9:30-10:00 am, Jessie Cox, “Cecil Taylor’s Posthumanistic Musical Score” 1

0:00-10:30 am, Mark Micchelli, “Decoding Cecil Taylor: Transcription and Analysis of an Improvisation from Imagine the Sound

10:30-11:00 am, Scott Currie, “With Blazing Eyes: Structuring Orchestral Improvisation as Compositional Realization”

11:00-11:15 am, Break

11:15-12:15 pm, Ben Young, "Let's Keep Listening"

12:15-1:15 pm, Lunch

Session 5: Encounters: the voice, confrontation, documentation

1:15-1:45 pm, Chris Funkhouser, “improvised is how the voice is used”

1:45-2:15 pm, Jeannette Lambert, “Meeting Cecil Taylor in the Rockies”

2:15-2:45 pm, Dominic Lash, “The inexpressible inclusion / of one within another”: Cecil Taylor on film – intermediality, negotiation, and confrontation”

2:45-3:15 pm, Chris Felver

3:15-3:30 pm, Break

Session 6: poetics, subculture, ritual

3:30-4:00 pm, David Grundy, “With blazing eyes and opened mouth”: The Poetry of Cecil Taylor

4:00-4:30 pm, Kehinde Alonge, “Documenting the ‘Subculture Becoming’ through liner notes”

4:30-5:30 pm, poetry readings & reflections on Cecil Taylor with Ammiel Alcalay, Elliott Levin, Anne Waldman & Devin Waldman, and Ammiel Alcalay reading from Steve Dalachinsky's "Mantis"

5:30-5:45 pm, Break

5:45-6:45 pm, Nahum Dimitri Chandler, “Air Above Mountains (Buildings Within): A Meditation”

6:45-8:00 pm, Dinner

8:00-10:00 pm, Closing & Big Band Concert directed by Karen Borca plays "Womb Water" and other Cecil Taylor Compositions
Click here to RSVP
to this concert.

Click here to visit the official conference website and more info. This conference was organized by Michelle Yom.

ABSTRACTS: Click here to download the Conference Abstracts.

Click below to download the conference posters.

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Humanities, Advanced Research Collaborative, the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC), PublicsLab, Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, the James Gallery, the Baisley Powell Elebash Fund, the PhD Program in English, the PhD Program in Music, and the Doctoral Students' Council (DSC) at the Graduate Center, CUNY; the Hitchcock Institute for the Study of American Music at Brooklyn College, and Constance Old.