Film & Arts Features
Martin Taylor performing
Martin Taylor at The Stables
Read a review following the set of home-grown jazz talent Martin Taylor, who performed at The Stables in Wavendon.
By Richard Hollingum - Senior Lecturer in Radio at the University of Northampton.
Outside of London there are few places as synonymous with jazz as The Stables at Wavendon, founded by this country's first family of jazz, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. It does play host to the widest range of music, but you could not get a better example of home-grown jazz talent as guitarist Martin Taylor.
Fascinating to watch
His guitar work is fascinating to watch; listening to it on CD is good, but as with many musicians, watching gives much, much more. You see the outer stillness of the man but you also see the inner beat, the inner rhythm and the inner soul. Unless you are playing rock in the style of a Pete Townsend the guitar is an instrument that does not allow for expansive gestures - a slick slide along the fret board might be a visual highlight.
Instead you get drawn in, to look at the minutiae of the playing, the skill, the way the different notes seem to be leaving the guitar at the same time, plucked from the strings by fingers carefully shielded by the palm of the hand. And here is the root of one of the things that make Martin Taylor special: with minimal use of physical and electronic effects he produces a panoply of sounds that not only deceive you into believing that he is playing assorted stringed instruments, but also, at times, brass and notably a steel band.
Essentially a solo programme, Martin was joined for a few numbers in both sets by Alison Burns, another of the country's growing number of very competent jazz vocalists. Alison has a good voice and the songs were well-chosen, no doubt with lots of guidance from her father-in-law, the aforementioned Martin Taylor. There were one or two occasions where it appeared she stumbled across the phrasing but Martin is the perfect accompanist and things went on very smoothly. It was said to me that Alison had something of Millicent Martin about her though at this early stage of her career less bouncy, more nervous. Despite any reservations I have to confess that I was totally won over with her rendition of Shadow of Your Smile.
Back to the guitar and Martin pointed out that it has been said that he stands outside of any 'box', any label. Whilst performing in the broad church that is jazz, it is clear to see that he owes no allegiance other than to good tunes, whether they be standards, contemporary numbers or his own compositions.
I am left pondering one mystery here. Martin's acclamation by fellow musicians is the best; the awards, the MBE and the range of his MySpace friends shows how well respected he is. So why so small an audience? Martin has a season coming up in November at the Pizza Express in London.By Richard Hollingum - Senior Lecturer in Radio at the University of Northampton.
last updated: 04/10/07
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