October 22, 2018 / 5:04 AM

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Cecil Taylor, Free Jazz Pioneer, Dies At 89

 

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The music industry is mourning the passing of Cecil Taylor, a visionary pianist who revolutionized the free jazz movement back in the 50s.

The news was confirmed to the press by his legal guardian Adam C. Wilner. The cause of death or any other information were not divulged as of this writing.

"Cecil had a magical touch on the keys and was a genius at the arts. He lives on through his uncanny ability to express his music and poetry in various forms of beauty, pain, injustice, and peace," stated Wilner to AP as reported by Billboard. "He will always be remembered in the history of Jazz for his free-form improvisational notes. He will be missed by his family, friends and fellow musicians."

Taylor was 89 years old.

Life And Career

The man was known to the world as a jazz icon. He was born in Queens, New York on March 25, 1929, to a middle-class family. His mother immediately saw his talent and helped him refine his skills. Young Taylor started playing the piano at the age of six.

As a young man, he attended the New York College of Music and the New England Conservatory where he studied Stravinsky, Bartók, and Elliott Carter.

Taylor released his first album titled Jazz Advance in 1956.

The revered pianist was popular for his hour-long uninterrupted and intense playing of the piano. In a documentary from 2000, narrator Ken Burns relayed something that Taylor once said about his performances.

"Cecil Taylor once said that since he prepared for his concerts, the audience should prepare too," the actor shared.

His avant-garde style is a difficult pill to swallow for many, but throughout his career, he gained hundreds of celebrity fans hailing from all sorts of genres. He further gained fame when he was asked to perform for former president Jimmy Carter at the White House in 1978.

Aside from his music, Taylor was known for his sharp wit. In 2014, a contractor was sentenced to up to three years in prison for intercepting the $500,000 he won from the Inamori Foundation of Japan. Taylor only has one word to his thief: "Die."

 In addition to his music, free jazz pioneer also strived to become a poet.

"I've always tried to be a poet more than anything else. I mean, professional musicians die," he said in an interview with a critic via The Guardian.

He continued to perform until his final years and his most recent outing was in 2016 in New York where he, supported by a cane, played his music at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was welcomed with a standing ovation.

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