John Taylor Trio/Yves Robert CD reviews [ECM]
Jan 11, 2006, 22:37
JOHN TAYLOR TRIO Rosslyn CD YVES ROBERT In Touch (48' de Tendresse) CD
A pair of decent new jazz releases from ECM:
UK Pianist John Taylor has been a fixture on the European scene since the late 1960s, when he began working with saxophonist and fellow Brit John Surman; a fruitful partnership that continues to this day. Since then, the now-sixty-one-year-old Taylor has backed up many touring jazz greats as part of Ronnie Scott's band, collaborated with everyone from Gil Evans to Evan Parker, and formed the (occasionally-reuniting)Â “minimalist-pulse” group Azimuth, with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, in 1977. Yet for all of his notoriety as an in-demand sideman, Taylor has rarely taken advantage of his associations, recording only a handful of solo albums during his long career; indeed, this is his first for ECM, after a 25-year relationship with the label. Upon hearing Rosslyn, the powerful influence of Bill Evans' sparkling, fragile style is utterly undeniable, as is the case with so many contemporary pianists; that bassist Marc Johnson was in Evans' last band certainly underscores the connection. But Taylor lives up to the comparison, bringing his own experiences of European art-minimalism to the already diaphanous dynamics. And enjoying the rarely applied subtleties of thunderous, godlike Naked City drummer Joey Baron in such a setting is an unexpected pleasure.
In Touch is also a trio set, though of a much different breed. This French outfit, which features the trombone of leader Robert, along with cellist Vincent Courtois and Cyril Ateff on drums, has a fine sound that is sour and bittersweet, while at the same time warm and lyrical. The interplay of Robert's “chordal” playing and Courtois's instrument creates a kind of strikingly new chamber music, with a muted baroque feel. Robert, who cut his chops in Dixieland bands before graduating to hard bop and, eventually, free jazz, acknowledges this “imaginary baroque” concept, while, as the label points out, there are also hints of the blues and echoes of jazz traditions. But maybe he's just gone full circle; the mood of this stuff is, of course, darker, and pulled and stretched like salt-water taffy, but the original New Orleans jazz was actually a collision of the blues and various European classical styles, played with reckless collective improvisation. But don't take that to be anything other than a conceptual indicator of where this choice album is at; “somber and superb” is the truly accurate description. [ECM]