463

Guildhall Big Band with Special Guest John Taylor: Pure and Simple

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
It would be easy to call Pure and Simple a John Taylor project, since all the charts are his and he's a featured soloist on every track. But, as was the case with the Australian Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra's The Mothership Plays the Music of Mike Nock (Jazzgroove, 2006), that would be a mistake. As part of CAM Jazz's CAM Jazz Presents series, aimed at creating exposure for some of today's younger jazz talents, it's important to delineate this as an homage by the young Guildhall Big Band, with Taylor featured as guest pianist.

Britain's world-renowned Guildhall School of Music and Drama has provided a fertile, multidisciplinary training ground for creative young artists since 1880, boasting high profile music teachers including Taylor himself. Taylor's big band arrangements, first premiered in 2004 at the UK Cheltenham Festival, are thoroughly contemporary charts that would challenge any big band. That this group of students tackles Taylor's music with such aplomb and élan lays waste to unfounded claims that the death knell has rung for jazz in recent years.

A clear torch-carrier for legendary pianist Bill Evans, Taylor has advanced his own considerably denser approach to harmony. It's that very density that creates a strong foundation for the six titles arranged here, which date back to his 1970s Azimuth days with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and singer Norma Winstone ("O, "Sirens' Songs, "Windfall ), but also run as contemporary as the title track—often-covered, but first appearing on drummer Peter Erskine's You Never Know (ECM, 1993)—and "Soldiering On, from the Taylor's Overnight (Sketch, 2002), with Wheeler and bassist Ricardo del Fra.

In some cases the charts wind through considerable twists and turns. The seventeen-minute "Quatorze, the only song written with a large ensemble in mind, is an episodic tour de force filled with vivid counterpoint, shifting feels and a compelling drop-out point that features some outré free interplay between trombonist Tom Woolley, altoist Mike Chillingworth and trumpeter Geoff Bartholomew before returning to terra firma. It's also a strong solo vehicle for a number of Guildhall band members, most notably baritone saxophonist Rob Downing, drummer Andrew Chapman and tenorist Tom Challenger.

Elsewhere, Taylor's charts take relatively simple premises, most notably the Azimuth material, which breathes new life through expanded arrangements taking full advantage of the textures available with this seventeen-piece ensemble. "O swings firmly, while "Sirens' Songs runs the gamut from ethereal to dramatic before finding its way to Taylor's near-minimalist core.

That Taylor is the only one to get a solo on nearly every track alludes to the high esteem conductor Scott Stroman and the entire big band hold for a pianist whose significance continues to grow with every passing year. Taylor's charts and participation are undeniably essential to Pure and Simple, but so too is the inescapable way that this outstanding young big band has made Taylor's modern big band charts come alive with a personality all its own.


Track Listing: O; Pure and Simple; Quatorze; Siren Songs; Soldiering On; Windfall.

Personnel: Scott Stroman: conductor; Tom Law: tenor saxophone 1, solo (2, 3, 5); Tom Challenger: tenor saxophone 2, solo (3, 4), soprano saxophone solo (6); Sam Bullard: alto saxophone 1, solo (3); Mike Chillingworth: alto saxophone 2, solo (3); Rob Downing: baritone saxophone, solo (3), bass clarinet solo (4, 5); Alan Hardiman: trombone 1, solo (5); Tom Woolley: trombone 2; Fiona Mclean: trombone 3; Kieron O

Title: Pure and Simple | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: CAM Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read The Chase CD/LP/Track Review The Chase
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Paint CD/LP/Track Review Paint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 16, 2017
Read A Pouting Grimace CD/LP/Track Review A Pouting Grimace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 15, 2017
Read Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis CD/LP/Track Review Witches Stew: A Tribute to Miles Davis
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Blue Light" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Light
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: October 14, 2017
Read "Reach" CD/LP/Track Review Reach
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 19, 2017
Read "Fresh Air Project" CD/LP/Track Review Fresh Air Project
by Jerry D'Souza
Published: September 30, 2017
Read "Mu" CD/LP/Track Review Mu
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "Unit[e]" CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Urban Soul" CD/LP/Track Review Urban Soul
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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