Dark to Themselves is a continuous 61-plus-minute performance by pianist Cecil Taylor and his 1976 quintet (which also includes such fiery players as trumpeter Raphe Malik, his longtime altoist Jimmy Lyons, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware, and drummer Marc Edwards). There is a quick theme along with brief transitions that form the composition "Streams and Chorus of Seed," but the bulk of the passionate performance is taken up by spontaneous and intense solos. Listeners with very open ears, and longtime fans of Taylor's, can consider this explosive performance essential.
This summit recording by pianist John Hicks, drummer Elvin Jones, and bassist Cecil McBee might not always hit the heights, but it still impresses with a fine repertoire and quality playing. John Coltrane's "Cousin Mary" kicks things off with Hicks and Jones matching the vigorous interplay the drummer and pianist McCoy Tyner plied so well in Coltrane's classic quartet, while a faithful reading of the tenor giant's airy ballad "After the Rain" is also included.
At age 72, Cecil Payne makes a recorded comeback with this release. He sounds in fine form, playing with dexterity, clarity, and depth on baritone sax, and brings out his flute for two of the eight cuts. Six of the eight selections are his compositions. A mixed-generation band has old hands John Ore (bass) and the great Harold Mabern (piano) teamed with younger men Eric Alexander (tenor sax) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Guest trumpeters Freddie Hubbard or Dr. Odies Williams III get cameos. As expected, this is a hard bop date, reflective of Payne's history with Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, and James Moody.