James Taylor Quartet
The music on this CD by the James Taylor Quartet (which is really a five-piece group) is purposely retro. Taylor (no, not that James Taylor!) is a British keyboardist who on this set sticks to the Hammond B-3 organ. The goal was to recapture the flavor of a Prestige or Blue Note soul-jazz session circa 1967-71. The group (Taylor, guitarist David Taylor, bassist Gary Crockett, drummer Neil Robinson, and John Willmott on saxophones and flute) are successful in bringing back the feel of the era. What is missing are any memorable melodies or original ideas, but since the groove is the thing, this set is successful within its limited scope, and easily recommended to soul-jazz organ collectors.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
The home of ACID Jazz, its base, was in Camden Town, London. The club was Dingwalls on a Sunday afternoon, the year 1987. Dingwalls legendary "Talkin' Loud" sessions, run by Gilles Peterson and Patrick Forge, were a double-edged sword. On the one side, the influence of the club and its shifting music patterns nearly killed-stone dead-the Hard Core Jazz Dance scene that had been slowly building since the early 70s (due almost exclusively to the DJ inventiveness of innovators Chris Hill, Colin Curtis, And Bob Jones) peaking in 1983 at Paul Murphy's "so-hard-it-hurts" Electric Ballroom sessions. Dingwalls catered to this style but was run with a slightly different agenda: what they called The Freedom Principle, which was the unofficial slogan for the fledgling ACID Jazz movement. You'd hear Jazzy House, Hip Hop, Rare Groove, 60's Prestige / Blue Note Organ Funk, Be Bop, Latin, Fusion, Soul...anything with a Jazz touch. And so, I've set the scene. The other side of the sword, so to speak.
From this club, the previously U.K.-only scene spread worldwide and spawned many fine musicians, bands, DJs, fashions, and labels. One of the very first projects was called (surprise, surprise) The Freedom Principle, produced by Working Week leader Simon Booth and was released on Polydor U.K.. It was at the photo shoot for this album that I first met James Taylor. Many of the scene's better-known musicians were involved in stylish projects and there we all were, at this shoot. James and I clicked immediately (we shouldn't have - James has a Mod background and mine is Rockabilly!!). Although we were amongst friends and ACID Jazz peers, we both commented on the fact that we felt awkward. We were just good old, politically incorrect, drinking, swearing, up-the-pub-on-a-Friday-night home counties-town boys-and this was a huge media-driven, fashion-led, new City movement. Our conversation that day was the "I love your music; do you want to do a gig with us?", mutual respect kind of thing. And that was that.
At the time of writing, I've played as an un-regular percussionist with the group for nearly 12 Years (bloody hell!!). I've never been able to be full-time, what with his schedule being different than mine, but he's always been happy to let me play when I can. I've seen many changes within this superb group, the latest (long-term) line-up being the best; and of course (without wanting to sound like the dew-eyed, un-ashamedly huge fan that I am) James is playing better than ever, and this is Exactly what I wanted to get across on the album. I wanted this album to be all about James Taylor: The Soloist, The Hammond Organist.
I was very proud to be asked to produce this album (more than you know). I've played on loads of his albums, but to actually produce one...? I'd recently produced a 7" single by J.T.Q. on Blow It Hard called Senouci (although I'm uncredited), and felt that I could take on an album. The first problem: what direction? James is equally expert in making jazz-funk, disco, funk, soundtrack, and soul, and plays a multitude of different keyboards. I could see that James was happy to get into my vision of the album. I wanted to make an album of live performance songs, the way it used to be done-an album with material that could have been from a Blue Note or Prestige album circa '67-'71. Just like those labels, the musical influences here range from The Meters to James Brown to Pucho, and the music ranges from Boogaloo to an out-and-out Jack McDuff-style Latin R&B flyer. Watch out!!
The most important thing to me on this project is that we have a different kind of Freedom Principle. I said to James, "Let the songs last as long as they want. If they finish after 3 minutes or 8 minutes, so be it." I wanted to get the best out of the soloists, and I feel that this has been achieved. They've really stretched themselves, and I feel the results speak for themselves. This is the album I've always wanted J.T.Q. to make, and I've had the honour to produce it. I hope you love it.
-Snowboy (January, 2001)
P.S. There is nothing digital in this recording; it was done analogue.
The CD is in stereo, and the vinyl is in glorious mono!!