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Chad Taylor: Circle Down

Troy Collins By

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In-demand indie rock session player (Sam Prekop, Iron and Wine) and co-founder of the Basil Coetzee with Rob Mazurek, drummer Chad Taylor has quickly become an indispensable part of the New York scene since his relocation from Chicago in 2000. His recurrent collaborations with Cooper-Moore, Jemeel Moondoc, and Marc Ribot feature his talents in a wide variety of settings, but none quite as dynamic as the ensemble documented on Circle Down, the debut of his trio with pianist Angelica Sanchez and bassist Chris Lightcap—sympathetic peers who inspire some of Taylor's most nuanced playing.

Bolstered by astute listening skills and amiable restraint, Taylor, Sanchez, and Lightcap's intimate three-way dialogues unveil subtly inventive interpretations of hallowed traditions, embracing a range of genres and styles across the album. Writing credits are shared by Sanchez and Lightcap on the first half of the record, while the second is attributed to Taylor.

Lightcap contributes an eclectic trio of tunes, veering from the bittersweet folksiness of "Box Step" and the propulsive Latin rhythms of "Specifica" to the oblique contours of "Traipse." A compelling writer and formidable improviser, Sanchez's dazzling virtuosity is showcased on her muscular, yet introspective "Rock" and the vivacious "No Brainer."

The remaining compositions are Taylor's, who embraces a diverse array of styles. A pair of ballads highlights his lyricism—the poetic "Opal" and a romantic tribute to his wife, "Miriam"—while his penchant for experimentation materializes on "Level." A scintillating mosaic of sound woven from Sanchez's knotty filigrees, Lightcap's sinuous bass lines, and Taylor's crisp accents, the tempestuous mantra balances unfettered abstraction with harmonic ingenuity. Fueled by ebullient Afro-Cuban rhythms, the celebratory "Pablo" and infectious "Pascal" conclude the album on a high note.

Providing a cohesive sensibility to the proceedings, the trio offers subtle shifts in approach with each stylistic change. Their congenial rapport informs their intertwining discourse, yielding unconventional arrangements that keep solo orders and accompaniment unpredictable and fresh.

A dynamic and refined session featuring the stellar interplay of an empathetic trio, Circle Down is Taylor's most sophisticated work to date.

Track Listing: Box Step; Specifica; Rock; Traipse; No Brainer; Opal; Level; Miriam; Pablo; Pascal.

Personnel: Chris Lightcap: bass; Angelica Sanchez: piano; Chad Taylor: drums.

Title: Circle Down | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: 482 Music

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