In my line of work one occasionally meets working musicians, some of whom are accompanied by their latest (sometimes first) album. I met trumpeter Ken Taylor at the Prescott (AZ) Jazz Summit in late August, and he sheepishly apologized for offering me a copy of Live in Concert, the debut album by the Ken Taylor Sextet. Someone else, he remarked, had encouraged him to do so. No problem, said I. Even though I'm a loyal "big-band man," any musician who asks me for a review will receive one. And here it is.
Taylor's group, taped at The Foothills, a part of the Appian Way Restaurant in Fountain Hills, Arizona, is made up, I presume, of local talent from the Phoenix area, with alto saxophonist Mary Petrich and tenor saxophonist Brent Sessions sharing the front line while pianist Barb Catlin, bassist Dave Grale, and drummer Cleve Huff keep the rhythm perking. Taylor, who wrote all the arrangements, is generous in assigning solo space, giving Sessions and Petrich their own features ("Stardust and "All the Things You Are, respectively) but taking none himself. Most numbers are of the tried-and-true variety, with one original by Taylor, "A Canoli for Carla, dedicated to his wife, and one seldom-heard jazz tune, Joe Newman's "The Midgets.
The level of musicianship is about what one would expect, trim and professional but never straying beyond that. The recording itself is quite decent, with Catlin and Huff perhaps a touch too prominent at times, a minor flaw that is all but unavoidable in a concert setting. Catlin's piano has a definite "this-is-a-concert-date sound but she handles it well. Solos, albeit less than innovative, are generally clear and well-focused. A pleasant concert date that is typical of what one might expect to hear in many less-than-prominent cities and towns across the country.