After touring and recording with Stéphane Grappelli throughout the 1980s, and then recording seven superior, straight-ahead albums in the 1990s for the Linn label, Martin Taylor has made a radical change of direction. For his Columbia Records debut, the guitarist teams with saxophonist Kirk Whalum, adds programmed accompaniments to the musical arrangements, and floats repetitious smooth jazz melodies around the recording studio. While his choice of style removes a fair amount of the session's creative energy, the album is performed well. Taylor's expressive guitar stands back much of the time and allows the surrounding factors to overcome. A modest string section, an assortment of pre-packaged sound effects, looped rhythms, and Whalum's fluid tenor share the spotlight. "I Get Along Without You Very Well," "Green Lady" and "Hymne a L'Amour" feature Taylor's guitar with a modicum of passion. Other songs fuse funk with pop and smooth jazz. Taylor's "Across the Pond" adds traditional Celtic music to the mix. The suite combines different landscapes of the guitarist's British homeland into one original collection. The session's high point comes on Whalum's "Beboptimism," which features guitarist and tenor saxophonist trading inspired fours. While the album travels through predictable territory and welcomes programmed repetition, it's performed well and in good taste. Martin Taylor's new look, while not his best perspective, gives the world a contemporary nightlife sound bite for the ages.
| Year Released: 2001
| Record Label: Artists Own