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Album Review

Martin Taylor has done his share of label-hopping; after recording for labels that range from Linn to Milestone/Fantasy, the guitarist joins the Columbia roster with 2001's Nitelife. Produced by Steve Buckingham and Kirk Whalum, Nitelife is one of Taylor's more commercial efforts. Jazz is often blended with pop and R&B, and much of the CD is obviously aimed at the NAC/smooth jazz market. But Nitelife isn't without integrity. Although uneven and inconsistent — there are a few throwaways here and there — the album has more plusses than minuses. Nitelife's most memorable offerings range from the Celtic-influenced "Across the Pond" (a Taylor original) to sensitive interpretations of Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" and Edith Piaf's "Hymne a l'Amour" (a French standard that American jazz artists have tended to overlook). Unfortunately, the producers really louse things up on Dionne Warwick's 1979 hit "Deja Vu" — Taylor's playing is fine, but Buckingham and Whalum make the mistake of overdubbing a programmed reggae/hip-hop beat. The end result is a major train wreck; the programmed groove might have worked on something funkier and more aggressive, but Taylor's take on "Deja Vu" is too introspective, too laid-back for that type of thing. His guitar solo is smothered by the production, and the same thing happens on an equally disappointing version of Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World." Instead of giving Taylor's guitar playing room to breath, Buckingham and Whalum insist on producing the tune to death. But on the whole, Nitelife isn't bad. Although far from one of Taylor's essential releases, Nitelife isn't the total disaster it might have been.


Born: 1956 in Harlow, Essex, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Since the death of Joe Pass in 1994, Martin Taylor has become one of the most highly regarded guitarists in jazz. He was given his first guitar by his father, Buck Taylor. Although he was inspired at first by Django Reinhardt, it was piano players like Art Tatum that drew his attention and helped him practice to develop his phenomenal solo technique. In the late '70s, Stéphane Grappelli invited him to play in a series of concerts in France. The violinist was so impressed that he used Taylor often...
Full Bio
Nitelife, Martin Taylor
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