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Mike Taylor Remembered

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Album Review

No matter that Mike Taylor's life story is one of British jazz's most tragic — the ease with which his greatest accomplishments have slipped into obscurity (buried beneath the fanfare that accompanies his work with Cream) is also an unforgivable lapse, as the story of this album proves. Mike Taylor Remembered was recorded in June 1973, four years after his death, by a clutch of musicians who were closest to him either musically or personally: Neil Ardley, Ian Carr, Dave Gelly, Jon Hiseman, Henry Lowther, Barbara Thompson, and others. Ten classic Taylor compositions were revisited under the eye of producer Denis Preston, and the result was both startling (for those who didn't know Taylor's music) and spooky (for those who did). But hopes for a swift — or even a belated — release came to naught, and it was 2007, a full 34 years later, before this magical performance was finally shown the light of day. It remains astonishing, ranging across the full spectrum of Taylor's catalog, with all the contributors playing their parts with astounding strength and vivaciousness. Neil Ardley's woodwind score for "Song of Love" is spellbinding, while the introduction of a synthesizer to the brew — an instrument that Taylor would surely have seized upon — makes for some truly magical moments, not least of all when the instrument duets with vocalist Norma Winstone across "Summer Sounds, Summer Sights." Liner notes by the clarinetist and saxophonist on the sessions, Dave Gelly, bring added immediacy to the listening experience, and the entire package is nothing short of a sheer delight. If only Taylor's own recordings could be accorded such sympathetic treatment.

Biography

Born: May 26, 1937 in Surrey, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The British composer Neil Ardley did a great deal of work with his country's best modern jazz musicians. His arrangements and compositions involve aspects of classical music's ambitious compositional outlook somewhat differently than the better-known third stream efforts of American jazzmen such as John Lewis or George Russell. Ardley graduated from Bristol University in the late '50s and went on to study arranging and composition with Raymond Premru and Bill Russo. By 1964, the one-on-one sessions...
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Mike Taylor Remembered, Neil Ardley
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