Fred Anderson and Chad Taylor: Polishing the Sound at UMass
For most of the concert, Taylor lowered his eyelids to a two-thirds closed position, suggestive of a meditative pose, maintaining this gaze as he played. There was no doubt that he was listening closely to his partner. At times, he fell into a call and response exchange that was less a predictable pattern than a freeform expression of joy with what was happening. When Anderson repeated a phrase, Taylor imitated it. When Anderson hammered the theme, Taylor's sticks followed but did not let go of making the rounds on the drums until his foot pounded the bass drum and his stick clipped the cymbal to break the continuity, eliciting a change in the music's direction. Often, Taylor scratched the surface of the prevailing musical atmosphere only to expand such subtle investigations into full-blown statements, similarly large in gesture and volume, not unlike the way Anderson developed his own solos.
Putting aside the sticks, Taylor worked his mallets dramatically, causing them to reverberate on the tom- toms. When he returned to the sticks, he often flattened the sound without deadening its forcefulness. His drumming could be described as tight, insistent, and incessant as he sculpted woody and dry materials into mutable sonic shapes matching the timbrel vicissitudes of Anderson's tenor.
The two-set concert lasted a full two hours with only one break. The duo played several of Anderson's compositions. The simplicity with which this pair of extraordinary musicians created the music so beautifully could easily have been missed were the music's story not so important to hear. Every spontaneous, melodic, rhythmic and cooperative aspect of the music was given substance. Not a thing was lacking. The music was at once effective and whole, robust and satisfying, giving the listener license to come along for the musical ride. Nothing could equal this performance, not even another concert by the same two musicians. Without question, there can never be anything like it again.