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Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made


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Curtis Taylor: Taylor Made
Trumpeter and composer Curtis Taylor's debut album, he writes in the liner notes, "was over twenty years in the making." Ever since he was a teenager, Taylor confesses, he dreamed of recording his music with a group of stellar musicians and calling it Taylor Made. And now he has.

The album's cover mirrors some of those that represented such labels as Blue Note and Prestige back in the 1950s and '60s, which is quite appropriate, as Taylor and his teammates are disciples of the hard bop style of jazz pioneered in those long-ago days by Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Dorham, Woody Shaw, Dexter Gordon, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin, Horace Silver, Bobby Timmons, Red Garland, Charles Mingus, Ray Brown, Sam Jones, Ron Carter, Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, Jimmy Cobb and a host of other household names.

As Taylor writes in that vein, Taylor Made is in some ways a throwback to the days when hard bop was king, but without imitation or cliché. Even when following the hard bop course, Taylor's music is fresh and alive, affirming that he has listened closely to his forebears and taken his cue from them while producing music that espouses his own voice. His quintet follows suit, swinging hard when needed and embracing Taylor's colorful charts with efficiency and enthusiasm.

The session is not all fire and brimstone; far from it, in fact, as hard bop has more to do with mood than tempo, and there is only one number —"Heightened Awareness"—that could reasonably be labeled a flag-waver. Taylor brings the heat in other ways, infusing his charts with a hard bop spirit that is ever-present even when the overlay is a waltz ("For Her") or ballad ("Hashtagged"), relying on earnest solos by tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliot and pianist Theron Brown and sturdy rhythmic support from bassist Jonathan Muir-Cotton and drummer Alex White .

Taylor opens with "Kham's Dilemma," a lyrical tribute to his son Khamari, and follows with the light-hearted "After the Rain," inspired by a rainfall but not completed until the sun had reappeared. "Heightened Awareness" and "For Her" precede the solemn yet engaging "Indomitable" and "Hashtagged," after which the session wraps with the delightful medium-tempo charmer, "Journey," on which Taylor, Elliot and Brown squeeze in one last impressive solo apiece. While it is true that not everyone appreciates the niceties of hard bop, those who do should find this album Taylor Made to suit their taste.

Track Listing

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


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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