Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor has died, aged 89

The musician collaborated with the likes of John Coltrane and Max Roach during his career

Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor has died, it has been confirmed.

The avant-garde musician passed away at his home in Brooklyn on Thursday evening (April 5) according to NPR. He was 89 years old.

Taylor was born in Corona, Queens on March 25, 1929, and began playing piano at the age of six. He studied at the New York College Of Music and Boston’s New England Conservatory. He went on to form his own band in 1956 after performing in other swing and R&B groups in the early ’50s.


He released his debut album as a bandleader, ‘Jazz Advance’, in 1956, writing three original songs for the record. He went on to release a further 74 albums as leader in his career, including live recordings, with the most recent being 2009’s ‘The Last Dance’.

Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor

Taylor collaborated with the likes of John Coltrane and Max Roach throughout his career, and was widely recognised as a pioneer of the free jazz sound. He was named an NEA Jazz master in 1990, while he was the subject of a retrospective at New York gallery The Whitney Museum of American Art.

No cause of death has currently been confirmed for Taylor. Fans of the musician have begun paying tribute to him online.

“Cecil Taylor was a revolutionary artist who pushed jazz piano to its outer reaches,” wrote one. “He was fearless. He was bare knuckled intellect and raw heart.”

Another recalled seeing him perform where “some people walked out”. “I felt like they realised they didn’t deserve something this pure,” they wrote. “He got even better after they left, too.” See those and more tributes below.



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