It makes no attempt to break new ground and is much the better for it.
Jack Smith 2003-10-16
The highly prolific , and oft maligned, James Taylor Quartet are back to entertain us with their 19th studio album. It marks a overdue return to the band'sroots and is their best effort in years.
In the past the JTQ has attempted to crossover from the doggedly hardcore acid jazz scene to a more mainstream audience; augmenting their sound with horns, big name soul vocalists, lush strings and complicated production. It's never really worked; Taylor's formidable keyboard skills ending up buried in a barrage of instrumentation and over-egged arrangements.
Fortunately this release (on Taylor's own label) is a back to basics affair. The quartet really is just that this time, opting to pay homage to the jazz & funk originators that inspired them back in the day.
The collection kicks of with a high octane version of "Jesus Christ Superstar", the well known theme providing a suitable springboard for James' frantic Hammond keyboard attack. Gorgeous stuff.
Throughout the album Mr. Taylor wears his life long influences very much on his mohair sleeves. The classic organ players such as Charles Earland, Jimmy Smith and the UK's Brian Auger are evoked most authentically. The track "Man In The Moon" may well of been separated at birth from Auger's reworking of "Bumpin' On Sunset", while "The Exorcism" clearly plays homage to Smith's "Roots Down."
This albumtakes an admirably dogmatic stance, the group making music for themselves and their legions of loyal fans. It makes no attempt to break new ground and is much the better for it.