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John Taylor Sextet: Fragment

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John Taylor Sextet: Fragment
The not-for-profit Jazz In Britain label is one of the unsung heroes of British jazz. And if it is being sung, apologies, it deserves to be sung louder. While it is fitting that the musicians who make up London's new alternative jazz scene receive a massive shout out, the players who came before them, who paved the way for British jazz's current explosion, tend to get overlooked.

Slowly, this is changing, and Jazz In Britain is in part responsible. The label has released albums by, among others, pioneering musicians such as Tubby Hayes, Joe Harriott, Neil Ardley, Harry Beckett, Ray Russell, Mike Osborne, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs, Don Rendell and Ian Carr. Some of these albums have never been released before, others slipped under the radar because they came out on tiny and often shortlived labels.

John Taylor's Fragment, recorded live in London's Capital Radio studio in 1975, is one such rediscovered treasure. It was released on fellow pianist Gordon Beck's cassette-only label, Jaguar, and promptly disappeared without trace. It was Taylor's third album, and his second fronting his sextet. On all but two tracks, he plays electric piano. The lineup is trumpeter and flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler, tenor and soprano saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, who is also heard on flute, trombonist Chris Pyne, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer and percussionist Tony Levin. Two years later, Taylor went on to form Azimuth with his wife, the singer Norma Winstone, the duo soon becoming a trio with the addition of Wheeler.

Taylor's 1970s sextet has been overshadowed by Azimuth and his later recordings as a bandleader, but the two albums which were released—the first was Pause, And Think Again (Turtle, 1971), which also featured Winstone—deserve wider currency. Taylor was not just a lyrical and harmonically adventurous composer, his architecturally conceived arrangements could make a mid-sized band sound practically orchestral, and he pulls the trick off often on Fragment. The music is energetic, complex without being difficult, and often intense. To complete the picture, Taylor and the three horns are in fine soloing form, as is bassist Laurence, who gets several opportunities to shine on the 17 minute "For Chris."

It all adds up to a great album.

Track Listing

Interfusion; Fragment; The Other One 1; Happy Landing / Easter Eve; The Other One 2; Room For Improvement; For Chris; Irene.

Personnel

Kenny Wheeler
flugelhorn
Stan Sulzmann
saxophone, tenor
Chris Pyne
trombone
Chris Laurence
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

John Taylor: electric piano, piano; Ken Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn; Stan Sulzmann: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Tony Levin: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Fragment | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Jazz In Britain

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