Archive of films All the Notes / All the Notes

2003, 72 min

Section: 2005: A Musical Odyssey
Year: 2005

This portrait of the 76-year-old free jazz legend was ten years in the making. The pianist, combining African impulsiveness and modern musical sophistication, plays a wonderfully sincere piece for the camera about his generation, creative approaches and the human aspects of genius.


Seventy-six-year-old pianist Cecil Taylor is a classic of free jazz. He has been recording albums with elite fellow-musicians since the 1960s and has won a number of awards (e.g. from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim foundations). To this day, his explosive yet crystal-clear performance bears the hallmarks of inaccessibility and mystery: where does he come by this deep-rooted combination of African impulsiveness and modern musical sophistication? Chris Felver, an independent creator of beat generation portraits, filmed Taylor for ten years. In front of the camera, the pianist gives the impression of a captivating actor, presenting distinctive views – albeit tantalisingly curtailed – with the virtuosity of a philosophical entertainer. In fact, it wasn’t at all easy to penetrate Taylor’s defences. Felver’s documentary is not only full of strong music but it also plays an important role in uncovering a personality which has hitherto stood in the shadow of his music: adored and condemned, often somewhat misunderstood. 

About the director

Christopher Felver

Christopher Felver (b. 1947, Pittsburgh) is a filmmaker, photographer, poet, biographer and former street musician. He has spent his whole life documenting artists of the beat generation. He has filmed Ferlinghetti, Corso and Ginsberg, among others. Films (selection): The Last Time I Saw Neil, West Coast: Beat & Beyond, John Cage Talks about Cows, The Coney Island of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Donald Judd’s Marpha Texas.



Photography Felver
511 Johnson Street, No. 1, California 94965, Sausalito
United States of America
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Color, DVD

Section: 2005: A Musical Odyssey
Director: Christopher Felver
Dir. of Photography: Christopher Felver
Editor: Christopher Felver
Producer: Christopher Felver
Production: Photography Felver
Cast: Cecil Taylor, Billy Bang, Elvin Jones, Derek Bailey, Amiri Baraka, Al Young, Nathaniel Mackay
Contact: Photography Felver

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