Cecil Taylor will kick off “Open Plan: Cecil Taylor,” which will include concerts, listening sessions, archival videos and more, with a performance on April 14. Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
Cecil Taylor is the latest jazz great to take over a museum space. The Whitney Museum of American Art will turn over its fifth floor to his work next month for a 10-day retrospective, “Open Plan: Cecil Taylor,” that will include concerts, listening sessions, archival videos, scores and poetry. Mr. Taylor will kick things off with a mixed music and dance performance with Min Tanaka and Tony Oxley on April 14.
Mr. Taylor, now 87, is primarily known for avant-garde jazz piano but has explored various forms of art throughout his career. The curators Jay Sanders and Lawrence Kumpf wanted the exhibition to reflect all of those interests and show how they play off one another. “We wanted to create a format that celebrates the full breadth of his practice, which is pretty vast and hard to trace,” Mr. Sanders said.
Scheduled performances include the cellist Tristan Honsinger (April 15); the drummer Andrew Cyrille (April 16); the poet Steve Dalachinsky (April 21); Adrienne Kennedy’s one-act play “A Rat’s Mass,” which Mr. Taylor revived in an operatic version in 1976, directed by Hilton Als (April 21); and the saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc (April 22). There will also be documentary screenings of films related to Mr. Taylor, listening sessions of his albums hosted by jazz scholars, and various ephemera.
Mr. Taylor has an extensive history with the Whitney: He played there three times in the 1960s and ’70s. When the Whitney’s new building was under construction Mr. Taylor took a hard-hat tour. According to Mr. Sanders, Mr. Taylor often practices on a baby grand piano in the museum’s trustee room.
It is unclear whether Mr. Taylor will appear at the exhibition, which runs April 15-24, after the opening concert. “He works live, so things can switch in the moment,” Mr. Sanders said. More information can be found at whitney.org/Exhibitions/OpenPlanCecilTaylor.
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Thanks so much for your help in getting the word out about Tuesday’s presentation with Nate Chinen and Steve Smith. We had 115 attendees, which is the most ever! We ended up moving the event to the sanctuary. They did a great job.