188

Thomas Taylor: Introducing Thomas E. Taylor Jr.

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
To me, one of the pleasures of reviewing music is the opportunity it presents to become acquainted with unrecognized but talented artists and help them get their message across to others. I met Thomas Taylor in January at the 30th conference of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE), and he was kind enough to let me have a copy of his debut album.

Taylor is a drummer who teaches at North Carolina Central University in Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is chairman of the Percussion and Jazz Education Center at the Music Academy of NC and the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Camps. Taylor also writes — does he ever! The first four numbers are his, and they are as handsomely drawn as anything on the album (which includes charming compositions by John Coltrane, Stanley Clarke, Blue Mitchell and Josh Redman, Bill Lee’s “Again Never” and the Richard Whiting standard, “My Ideal,” dedicated to Taylor’s wife, Yuko).

I assume Taylor arranged everything as well, except for Trane’s “Naima,” credited also to Eric Alexander and Chris Hankins. A second assumption is that all or most of Taylor’s colleagues are teachers (if I’m not mistaken, saxophonist / flutist Ira Wiggins heads the Jazz Studies department at NC Central University in Durham). Wiggins is an impressive player but so is everyone else — there are no novices in this neck of the woods. Taylor, a strong but tasteful timekeeper in the Jimmy Cobb / Art Taylor / Lewis Nash tradition, anchors a rock-ribbed rhythm section (Harry Pickens, piano; Jud Franklin, guitar; Herman Burney or Steve Haines, bass), and there are trenchant solos by Wiggins (tenor and flute), Franklin, Pickens, trumpeter Ray Codrington and trombonist Fred Wesley.

As for the tunes, if Mitchell’s playful “Fungi Mama” (a showcase for Franklin’s guitar and rhythm) doesn’t set your toes to tapping, chances are nothing will. Taylor’s drums set the mood, as they do on every number, from the searing “Mango!” to Redman’s soulful “Blues on Sunday” (another feature for Franklin). Taylor steps from behind the drum kit to sing on “My Ideal,” revealing a pleasant tenor that is only a few practice sessions removed from proficient. Taylor’s “Learnin’ the Ropes” is a laid-back blues, “Passing the Torch” a luminous ballad, “Nantoka Kantoka” a well- designed 100-meter dash for Franklin, Taylor and one of the bassists.

Anyone who argues that teachers can’t play should listen with an open ear to these gentlemen.


Title: Introducing Thomas E. Taylor Jr. | Year Released: 2003


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Agrima CD/LP/Track Review Agrima
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Bright Yellow with Bass CD/LP/Track Review Bright Yellow with Bass
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 18, 2017
Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read "Desire & Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "What Time Is It?" CD/LP/Track Review What Time Is It?
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Deep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 5, 2017
Read "The Beautiful Day" CD/LP/Track Review The Beautiful Day
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Cluster Swerve" CD/LP/Track Review Cluster Swerve
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.