Martin Taylor – Lichfield Guildhall – November 7th 2010
One of the world’s best-known solo jazz guitarists, Martin Taylor played to a large Lichfield audience when he played the Guildhall. He is famed for his solo work, but he is also known for the time he spent with such Jazz legends as Stephane Grappelli, Dion Warwick, and several other musicians and singers. He played a full two hour set with just guitar, and a dazzling technique and dexterity.
He played a number of his own compositions, as well as some songs and arrangements from the standards book and newer songs.
He played the guitar more like a piano, chord fragments mixed with walking bass, and melodies and solos to form a complete musical performance, that relied as much on taste as it did on musical knowledge. His bluesy sound was particularly noticeable during an upbeat reading of Norah Jones’s biggest hit, ‘Don’t know why’. It is said that in Jazz the tune is just a suggestion, and this performance took that to heart, twisting and turning the song into new forms and harmonies. A version of ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ also received the same treatment, using his advanced, honed guitar style to good effect.
An adaptation of Bill Evans version ‘Of Someday my Prince will come’ was active, with a dark counterpoint to the melody. Tony Christie, best known for his pop work gave a surprise performance on two songs, the highlight of which was a steady swing version of ‘(I’ve got you) Under my Skin’ showing that he is capable of singing Jazz with one accompaniest as he is playing fully arranged songs with a full ensemble.
His own material, the calypso, steel drum-like tonal piece ‘Down at the Kokomo’ had a good tune, and rhythm, driven by hi-life chords and walking bass.
A version of ‘They can’t take that away from me’ showed the full depth of his technique, and explained why he has gained his reputation as a world-class musician, while the laid back jazz-blues piece that made up the encore was a fitting way to end another successful gig for Lichfield Arts.