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Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made

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Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made
From the classic Blue Note-inspired cover design to the wide range of bop-based jazz influences found within, trumpeter Curtis Taylor leaves no doubt about the vibe he is aiming for with his debut full-length release, Taylor Made. Taylor has been a frequently used sideman by artists such as Gregory Porter, Billy Childs, and Cyrus Chestnut, so it is a welcome occurrence that he is now able to step out on his own more convincingly. Seven well-designed compositions, and accomplished performances by Taylor and his colleagues, render it an enticing recording.

The opener, "Kham's Dilemma," has the elliptical feel of a Wayne Shorter tune from one of Miles Davis' mid to late- 60s albums. Taylor's melodic instincts are strong, and his trenchant solo is a delight, with fluid lines and a confident attack. Tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliot also shines here, as he does across the album, with incisive jabs and parries which enhance the music's energy, while pianist Theron Brown's robust, muscular sound is highlighted on his own compelling solo. The concentrated firepower of "Heightened Awareness" is just as impressive, taken at a blistering tempo which catalyzes the musicians' most fervid bursts of creativity.

The group is similarly assured on the more subdued tracks. "After the Rain" is a lithesome tune fueled by a gentle, bouncing swing, while "For Her," the album's ballad, has an even deeper poignancy, drawing out the emotional register of Taylor's sound, not to mention the sympathetic support of bassist Jonathon Muir-Cotton and drummer Alex White , who offer steady constancy throughout the album. The understated resilience of "Indomitable" is another triumph, with both Elliot and Taylor finding strength through their soulful, expansive solo statements.

Stylistically speaking, "Hashtagged" may be the album's outlier, with a modern funk sensibility shaped by Brown's Fender Rhodes, and Muir- Cotton moving to electric bass. Even so, the 7/4 meter and assertive solos from Taylor and Brown manage to maintain interest for its duration. The album's closing track, "Journey," returns the group to its sweet spot, bearing a mid-60s Herbie Hancock quality and adding a hint of adventure when it goes into double-time.

While Taylor may at times display his influences a bit too transparently, the skillful musicianship on Taylor Made is evident, and it is an enjoyable and engaging listen.

Track Listing

Kham’s Dilemma; After the Rain; Heightened Awareness; For Her; Indomitable; Hashtagged; Journey.

Personnel

Marcus Elliot
saxophone, tenor
Jonathon Muir-Cotton
bass, acoustic
Additional Instrumentation

David Castañeda: percussion (2).

Album information

Title: Taylor Made | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


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