132

Tom Taylor: The Crossing

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Summit Records recently re-released Tom Taylor's 1986 CD The Crossing, a sophisticated fusion effort that should please fans of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Jean Luc Ponty and the Pat Metheny Group.

Taylor is a guitarist and composer who blends classical styles with jazz and hints of bluegrass. Many similar attempts at fusing jazz with classical music have seemed pretentious, but The Crossing works on the strength of the leader's original compositions and his players' vituosity. The CD features Taylor's old band (guitar, vibes, bass, drums) along with some talented guests, including peerless mandolin picker Dave Grisman and the Kronos Quartet.

Colorado native Taylor earned Musician Magazine's Best Unsigned Band Award of 1997 for the opening track here, "Audade." This piece is a tricky but catchy creation with Grisman on mandolin, Taylor on classical and electric guitars, and Joe Caploe on vibes. The album's centerpiece is "Big Basin Breakdown," a knee-slapping blend of baroque counterpoint, bluegrass and jazz. It features the Kronos Quartet, the unconventional string ensemble, and it's all the more compelling because it doesn't take itself too seriously.

Other high points include "Pasque March," a composition with a baroque feel that showcases some jazzy interplay — sort of Vivaldi meets the Flecktones. "Swamp Fox" starts out like a pulsing Phillip Glass piece, but gives way to a twisting jazz-rock melody that creates a vaguely martial mood.

I especially like the way the composer uses vibes and marimba to establish different tempos, an approach he shares with Frank Zappa. Equal credit goes to Joe Caploe, the man who actually plays the vibes and marimbas here. And Taylor is one guitarist who doesn't hog the spotlight — violinist Erik Golub actually solos more often.

Taylor's intricate music is the rare jazz-classical amalgam that really works. I'd like to hear more of the same, but I understand Taylor's been focusing on symphonic pieces of late. Maybe if The Crossing sells a few copies he'll revisit this format.


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Wede Harer Guzo" CD/LP/Track Review Wede Harer Guzo
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 28, 2016
Read "Occasional Poems" CD/LP/Track Review Occasional Poems
by John Sharpe
Published: April 4, 2016
Read "Sol Boricua" CD/LP/Track Review Sol Boricua
by James Nadal
Published: April 30, 2016
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Sharpener" CD/LP/Track Review Sharpener
by Nick Davies
Published: December 21, 2016
Read "Amorandom" CD/LP/Track Review Amorandom
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!