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James Taylor Quartet: Creation

Douglas Payne By

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A better title for U.K. organist / keyboardist James Taylor's fourth disc might be " re creation." That goes for reincarnation and pure fun too. The giveaway is in the cover photo's pun of the famous shot from the 1966 mod film, Blow Up (itself highlighting some of Herbie Hancock's earliest dope jazz).

Creation is pure flashback. But while it apes past styles, Taylor has eschewed the late 60s lounge funk he trafficked in the past for an exceptionally entertaining 53 minutes of party music drenched in 70s styles—from cop-show funk and disco to fusion and (gasp) even British art rock. One hears the influence of 1974-era Shirley Scott ("Selectivity"), ELP and Iron Butterfly ("Creation"), Brian Auger ("Staying Active"), the Greg Rollie organics of "Don't Let Money Be Your God," the Blaxploitation soundtrack fluff of "A Far Away Land" and the dance jazz / disco of "Check It Out." The best of Taylor's originals focus on his organ-guitar-bass-drums-percussion combination (yes, the Quartet seems to be a quintet). But at times, as in his Austin Powers theme (probably his best known work in the US), he adds a sax and trumpet to the mix.

What makes Creation one of Taylor's best, though, is the covers of Tom Scott's kicking "Starsky and Hutch" theme (which features former JB and P-Funk man Fred Wesley on ‘bone) and Lalo Schifrin's neglected, trippy "Dirty Harry" theme. These tunes hold up surprisingly well as solid dance numbers but a lot of thirtysomething TV-totallers will party down memory lane hearing these classics again.

Creation, and James Taylor's whole bag, is reminiscent of what groups like Odell Brown and the Organizers were doing back in the 60s—soulful interpretations of catchy, familiar styles and themes. Some like it, some don't. The tunes are varied and the talent involved kick out the jams with interesting (if riff-y) improvisational skills. But this is party music—interesting, fun and worth returning to.


Track Listing: The Theme from 'Starsky and Hutch"-1, "Selectivity"-2, "Creation 9fafare for a 3rd millennium)," "Staying Active," "Man of Mystery"-2, "Theme from 'Dirty Harry'"-2, 3, "Summer Fantasy"-2, "Don't Let Money Be Your God," "Road Rage"-2, "Check It Out"-2, "Grass Is Not Greener"-4, "The Theme From 'A Far Away Land'"-2, "Austin's Theme"--2 (53:55).

Personnel: J. Taylor (organ); D. Taylor, S. Booth--1 (guitar); G. Crockett, E. McKown--1 (bass); N. Robinson, H. Srih--1 (drums); R. horns--1 (brass); D. Ellis--1 (tenor sax); J. Willmott--2 (sax/flute); R. Gaskins--4 (sax); D. Glover (trumpet)-2 (except "Check It Out"); Fred Wesley--1 (trombone); M. Ravelico (percussion); N. Sawhney--3 (tablas).

Title: Creation | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Acid Jazz/Hollywood


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