I had barely begun an over three hour long drive this past Christmas Eve when I stumbled upon on the second and final cut of Nailed, "Last," already in progress. Even before I positively identified pianist Cecil Taylor and saxist Evan Parker, I knew that I was listening to a major and important work. The music had a certain heaviness and abundance of layers that made it clear that this was not just another session but rather four musicians going for broke and denying nothing to the audience. It was the perfect antidote to cliched sacred and secular canticles of that season. Kudos to W. Kim Heron and WDET for playing it, Free Music Productions for releasing it, and, most importantly, to Taylor, Parker, bassist Barry Guy, and drummer Tony Oxley for performing this music on September 26, 1990 in Berlin, Germany.
The first track, unoriginally yet appropriately titled "First," starts out slowly but the pace picks up quickly. Then listeners get about 30 minutes of pure intensity and build up with the music always gaining speed and focus. Then there is a brief retreat before this foursome returns to its fierce form. "Last" isn't as extreme and at times lumbers but it still has plenty of improvisational spirit and is a showcase for the (relatively) softer side of Taylor.
You might have noticed that I haven't provided readers with as much in the way of musical description as I usually do. The reason for this that this disc doesn't have much in the way of a concept other than 4 masters performing at peak, or at least near peak, level. Nor does the material break any new ground. Nailed is, however, a premier example of the "European free jazz" with its unbridled freedom and classical influences. And that should be good enough for anybody.