Cecil Taylor, in A. B. Spellman’s moving book Four Lives in the Bebop Business, once told a story about an experience he had in the mid-fifties, when almost every clubowner, jazz writer and listener in New York was turned off to his music because it was still so new and so advanced that they could not begin to grasp it yet. Well, one night he was playing in one of these clubs when in walked this dude off the street with a double bass and asked if he could sit in. Why not, said Taylor, even though the cat seemed very freaked out. So they jammed, and it soon became apparent to Taylor that the man had never had any formal training on bass, knew almost nothing about it beyond the basic rudiments, and probably couldn’t play one known song or chord progression. Nothing. The guy had just picked up the bass, decided he was going to play it, and a very short time later walked cold into a New York jazz club and bluffed his way onto the bandstand. He didn’t even know how to hold the instrument, so he just explored as a child would, pursuing songs or evocative sounds through the tangles of his ignorance. And after awhile, Taylor said, he began to hear something coming out, something deeply felt and almost but never quite controlled, veering between a brand new type of song which cannot be taught because it comes from an unschooled innocence which cuts across known systems, and chaos, which playing the player and spilling garble, sometimes begins to write its own songs. Something was beginning to take shape which, though erratic, was unique in all this world. Quite abruptly, though, the man disappeared again, most likely to freak himself to oblivion, because Taylor never saw or heard of him again. But he added that if the cat had kept on playing, he would have been one of the first great free bassists.