Slept On: Cecil Taylor/Ghana Brian

July 13, 2010


Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s kinda nothing but it’s also the Cecil Taylor’s Nefertiti The Beautiful One Has Come. Find "Lena Pt 2" somewhere and listen to that part when it's just him and Sunny Murray because it will fuck up your day. Fucked up my morning. Read more of Schnipper’s thoughts after the jump.


What I like about my friend Brian is that he makes free jazz metaphors. He said “It took me a while to get into Cecil Taylor.” He meant it like you settle into things that are hard at first and later rewarding. I don’t remember what he was talking about.

I met Brian in DC the summer there were so many murders. It was grossly hot and kind of scary. He lived on a terrible block. I never went to his house. He was happy to come to mine. Brian had been abroad with my friend Josh, both of them living in Ghana for six months. In DC, he wore a Who shirt constantly and talked a lot. My friend Justin one day said we should go to lunch with that guy who talks a lot. We walked up 18th Street in raw heat to Waffle Shop. They had one waffle iron for one waffle at a time. People would order two waffles, split the first while they second was being made and then split the second. Everyone called Brian “Ghana Brian,” though it doesn’t particularly roll off the tongue. Once we drove out to Joe’s Record Paradise and he spent $100. He bought a Hugh Masakela record with ’80s electronics. It looked terrible. I thought he was crazy. At the end of the summer we drove his tiny blue car up to New York to see a drummer whose name I couldn't remember play in some warehouse theater somewhere in the 50s. Someone played a bamboo flute. I’d seen the drummer on the street, playing with a saxophonist in front of the newsstand in Astor Place. I couldn’t remember his name, knew it was something Japanese with a K or two. I looked in the show listings, googled everyone with a Japanese name. It was Tatsuya Nakatani. I saw him play tons of times, mostly after Brian moved to Thailand and then back to Ghana. In Thailand he had a girlfriend who modeled lingerie. In Ghana he was in a booze commercial. Not sure which made him happier.

After Brian came back from Ghana we got an apartment together in New York. he had a drum kit in his room. I can’t remember if this is many memories contracted or just one special one, but once I woke up on the weekend to him playing in a towel, just out of the shower. He asked me if he woke me up. Yes, playing the drums very loud in our apartment woke me up. I might have said no.

I listened to Cecil Taylor this morning. It was great. Not sure what that means on the scale of metaphors. Here is what I like about Cecil Taylor: he is cool. Watch this video of him playing piano in an all white room wearing a white hat. I believe he is sweating through his sweatshirt. This song is depressingly beautiful. Nefertiti, The Beautiful One Has Come is the name of an imaginary movie that wins the Oscar for most perfect title. In the liner notes, Nat Hentoff says Cecil Taylor looks like “a post-graduate owl.” My heart is breaking. But maybe that’s the piano playing.

Here is what I like about Brian: He is not cool. Which also means he is cool. It’s confusing. When he moved out, he moved in with a racist. I helped him move out of that apartment a few months later. I don’t know where the drums went.

From The Collection:

Slept On
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Slept On: Cecil Taylor/Ghana Brian