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The Valley

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Album Review

After the passing of Joe Pass, Britain's Martin Taylor has risen to become one of the premier jazz guitarists on the scene. Despite that, he's presented on a relatively small label here. The music is a mix of original compositions by Taylor (and compatriot Simon Dinnigan) and standards from around the jazz repertoire. Taylor has a relatively light touch, reminiscent, at times, of some new age players. Simultaneously though, he can pick his way through intricate passages akin to a piano player. At that however, not necessarily a jazz piano player. Taylor is admittedly influenced by the likes of Art Tatum, but his style is almost that of a classical pianist through much of the recording, and certainly on the order of a classical guitarist. Guest vocalists are present (opera singer Bryn Terfel and Sacha Distel in particular), though their talents don't quite fit with Simon & Garfunkel covers, truthfully. Overall, the covers are nice, though not always fitting. The originals are where Taylor really shines, letting his style flow as it will through the passages without worrying about remaining true to the original composers. Worth a listen for jazz guitar fans, though Taylor is likely not unheard of for those in the know anyway.

Customer Reviews

Great album, but avoid the vocals

I just discovered Martin Taylor, and if you've heard him, you know he's terrific. No, not terrific, but one-of-a-kind

The songs on this album are mostly standards, or in the standards-style, but the last one, Kwame, is the standout. It's like nothing I've ever heard before on guitar, and it's hard to believe that all of the sounds are coming from that instrument. (In fact, I'm planning to try to find the official liner notes to be sure that they are.)

A word of caution: I suggest you buy only the instrumentals. I'm guessing the vocalists were personal friends of Mr. Taylor's, because their voice qualities and vocal styles are not good matches for his instrumental style.

My subtraction of one star is for the vocals – otherwise this album is six-star quality.


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...
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The Valley, Martin Taylor
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