By the time of his Paris concert, Cecil Taylor's quartet had reached a particularly high level of musical communication. Not only did altoist Jimmy Lyons (whose sound but not choice of notes was sometimes close to Charlie Parker's) find a place for himself in the dense ensembles, but one can hear him and the pianist/leader echoing each other's phrases in spots.
Released on LP in 1966, Cecil Taylor's Student Studies is an anomaly from his other recordings of the era. Not purely improvised, Taylor uses arranged sections and built-in segments for thematic and improvisational space. His meditations on short tonal studies and propulsive bursts of energy became signifiers of his later music. The band here, including Jimmy Lyons, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Andrew Cyrille, registered with Taylor's fluid disciplinary approach to atonalism and dissonance, and found room to actually swing in. In fact, the influences Taylor spoke of most often during the era – Ellington, Bud Powell, and Mingus, can be traced here, if not heard outright.
Mick Taylor's self-titled debut album is rather different than one would imagine for an ex-Rolling Stone and former Bluesbreaker. As to whether this is due to the conformist sound of the lighter numbers ("Leather Jacket," "Baby I Want You," etc.) or the fact that his singing voice is so much more average than Jagger or Mayall's is debatable. In any case, Mick Taylor is an undeniably attractive and often surprising album. The highlight and thrust of the album is Taylor's astounding guitar playing. His fusion of blues and rock styles, and, of course, his slide guitar work, is constantly impressive. "Slow Blues," "Giddy-Up," and "Spanish/A Minor" feature some particularly gob-smacking guitar solos. Lyrically, Mick Taylor is a little lightweight, but at worst competent. Similarly, some of the music is at times cheesy, attempting to blend in with the sound of the time. Nevertheless, Mick Taylor's first attempt at a solo recording is a fine effort and one that improves with time.