Stephane Grappelli & Martin Taylor
Recorded at January 21,22, 1993
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
When Martin Taylor was a youthful prodigy of 23, he joined Stephane Grappelli's regular touring hand, the latest in a line of distinguished guitarists stretching back to Django Reinhardt. It was, as he puts it, "a very hot seat to sit in". It was also part of a lens and phenomenally varied apprenticeship, which has led to his becoming one of the finest players in the world by his mid-thirties. Stephane Grappelli had already reached the age of 71 when he first met Martin, but he was still growing too. In a most remarkable creative burst, beginning in about 1974, Grappelli's playing had taken on new ardour, and a kind of fearlessness which could be quite overwhelming in its effect. He thrived on new material and seemed to blossom in the company of musicians young enough to be his grandchildren. ¦ The rising curve of Stephane Grappelli's art and career at a time of life when most men have decided to quit is without parallel in jazz, but there is more to it than a mere matter of age. He has, in a sense, outgrown jazz itself, and this, regardless of the difference in their ages, is the main thing he has in common with Martin Taylor. ¦ They both play music which appeals far beyond the boundaries of the jazz audience - not because it is in any way softened or watered down, but because it speaks directly and its meaning is clear. No one with an ounce of musicality could ever say that they didn't understand it, and their virtuosity is so self-evident that they never need draw attention to it. Anyone can tell that this is playing of almost superhuman accomplishment. Listen, for instance, to the opening chorus of 'Drop Me off at Harlem' and the apparently negligent ease with which Taylor supplies harmony, rhythm, linking phrases and supporting melody, all at the same time. This, incidentally, must be one of Ellington's most beautiful tunes - and one of the few 32-bar American songs in which the middle-eight melody is as strong as the main theme. '"The quality of ease or spaciousness is something which distinguishes all Grappelli's later work, and it finds a perfect echo in Martin Taylor, whose composition 'Jenna' brings out the full luxuriance of Grappelli's tone. It also brings out his remarkable ability to skate along the very edge of sentimentality without actually falling in. Listening to the solo guitar number. 'Emily', it is sometimes difficult to believe that it is indeed a solo performance - it is not uncommon these days to come across guitarists who can play simultaneous melody, chords and bass line, but most of them make it sound as difficult as it actually is. Martin Taylor, on the other hand, fits the elements together so seamlessly that you soon forget the virtuosity and concentrate on the music. You also forget the whole question of how this all fits into the jazz picture, assuming that it occurred to you in the first place. I suppose the answer is that the music is jazz-shaped but free to wander wherever it pleases: all you need to do is follow it.