Letter To A Legend

mr. cecil taylor

I was walking down the street the other day and found myself engaged in conversation with the construction foreman renovating the house next to yours. Having worked in metal we spoke about scrapping rust from the ironwork on the stoop as well as our health. Both of us are in our early 60s and still work blue collar jobs.

I live on South Oxford between Lafayette and DeKalb and we discussed property prices. I told him that in 1976 I had lived over of Berkeley Place. We rued not having the funds to purchase a house back in those days and he mentioned that a pianist was living next to the construction site.

“Cecil Taylor. He plays jazz.”

“I’ve heard the name.”

I didn’t say much else, but I’m writing this letter because I had met you back in 1976-77 through James Spicer. I had shared that apartment on Berkeley Place with the silver-haired impresario until a friend of mine from the Gaslight Pub robbed too many banks one weekend. I found less unsettling digs in the East Village, but remained in contact with James.

One night in 1978 I received a phone call from NYU. James was very sick. I sat with him for hours, singing songs. The doctors had no idea why he was dying from pneumonia. He wasn’t scared, except at the dawn, then he calmed down as I whistled FAVORITE THINGS. Probably off tune.

I recall you being a big Knicks fans. I came from Boston. I’m still a Celtics fan, but I have a nice Knicks bag for you. Good for carrying sheet music.

Last time I saw you play was at the Ocean Club.

Please get in touch, otherwise you can find me at Frank’s Lounge and ask for Pete the Boston white guy’. They know who that is.


Peter Nolan Smith

ps listening to “Imagine the Sound” I finally get it.

To view IMAGINE THE SOUND, please go to the following URL

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