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Friday, January 08, 2021

Album review: Paul Taylor - Via

Paul Taylor (piano)

Taylor is one of the enigmas of the northeast jazz scene or, to be more precise, the jazz and improvisation wing of the music. Here, his imagination runs free displaying a dazzling technique that seemingly knows no boundaries.

At times it verges more towards improvised classical music than jazz. If you can imagine, say, Keith Jarrett or Cecil Taylor taking off on an advanced exercise by Czerny then you're in the right recital room. The purist won't find many blue notes or flattened fifths or big fat block chords although repeated listening reveals a few themes that stay with the listener long after the lid on one of Sage Gateshead's Steinways (where the album was recorded)  has been closed.
Titled Via, the six pieces comprise Via I; Via II; Via III; Via IV and Via V with a 17 minutes plus composition - Planare - slotted in the middle. Translated from the Italian, Planare means "to glide, to skim" and before I googled the word the opening bars had conjured up an image of someone surfing on a tempestuous sea before entering a calmer scenario so maybe Taylor and I are on the same wavelength.

Via II opens up ominous with foreboding and dark overtones that hint of tragedy. As it was recorded on the eve of the first lockdown in March, perhaps as well as being a pianist and a composer he's also a soothsayer.

This isn't a piano in the background album but one that demands intense concentration if the listener wants to reap the benefits of hearing a unique performer in full flight. It's well worth the effort.

Via is released today (Jan. 8) by the New Jazz and Improvised Music Recording label on CD or downloaded via(!) Bandcamp.

1 comment :

Paul said...

Thank you very much for your most positive and perceptive review, Lance; it's most appreciated.
"Via" is available on CD and download here:

Other great releases by the John Pope Quintet, Andy Champion and Graeme Wilson, and Laura Toxværd / Jacob Anderskov / Maria Faust are or will be available on the NJaIM Bandcamp page:

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