Dark to Themselves is a continuous 61-plus-minute performance by pianist Cecil Taylor and his 1976 quintet (which also includes such fiery players as trumpeter Raphe Malik, his longtime altoist Jimmy Lyons, tenor saxophonist David S. Ware, and drummer Marc Edwards). There is a quick theme along with brief transitions that form the composition "Streams and Chorus of Seed," but the bulk of the passionate performance is taken up by spontaneous and intense solos. Listeners with very open ears, and longtime fans of Taylor's, can consider this explosive performance essential.
At age 72, Cecil Payne makes a recorded comeback with this release. He sounds in fine form, playing with dexterity, clarity, and depth on baritone sax, and brings out his flute for two of the eight cuts. Six of the eight selections are his compositions. A mixed-generation band has old hands John Ore (bass) and the great Harold Mabern (piano) teamed with younger men Eric Alexander (tenor sax) and Joe Farnsworth (drums). Guest trumpeters Freddie Hubbard or Dr. Odies Williams III get cameos. As expected, this is a hard bop date, reflective of Payne's history with Dizzy Gillespie, J.J. Johnson, Tadd Dameron, and James Moody.
Payne's Window offers further testament to unsung hero Cecil Payne's prowess on the baritone saxophone. Fronting a delightfully swinging sextet that includes pianist Harold Mabern and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, Payne delivers a wonderful mixed bag of originals and standards. Window boasts a nonchalant attitude that allows the music to swing effortlessly. On Payne's humorous "James," Mabern improvises on what seems to be "Mary Had a Little Lamb" as Payne, Alexander, and trombonist Steve Davis punch in with swaggering riffs. Payne's impeccable rhythms are still intact, as on the Latin-tinged "Spiritus Parkus" and "Southside Samba," while tunes like "Lover Man" and "That's It Blues" are imbued with bluesy mellowness. Payne's Window is a no-frills record that rewards with each listening.
Iconoclastic satirist John Waters bites the hand that (periodically) feeds him in this humorous look at the underside of the film industry. Self-styled guerrilla filmmaker Cecil (Stephen Dorff) leads a Baltimore movie-making collective/street gang called the Sprocket Holes, which includes Cecil's girlfriend and frequent leading lady, a low-rent porn actress named Cherish Oh Lordy (Alicia Witt). Desperate for attention, they kidnap famous Hollywood actress Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) during a Baltimore publicity stop and force her at gunpoint to star in their latest production, Raving Beauty. Before long, Honey comes down with a severe case of Stockholm syndrome and joins the Sprocket Holes in their bid to destroy the mainstream film industry. Waters regulars Ricki Lake, Patty Hearst, and Mink Stole highlight the supporting cast, and techno star Moby contributes to the soundtrack.