Wednesday, February 12, 2003


Another blast from the fairly recent past which happens to have found itself on my sound system recently is 'Artistry' (Linn AKD 020, 1992 re-pressed 1996).

Eleven miniatures - most standards - are here breathtakingly unveiled by jazz djangoista Martin Taylor, one of the truly great guitarists of this (and any other) generation. Produced by Steve Howe, with whom he has also completed the about-to-be-released 'Masterpiece Guitars', this album ranks alongside the newly-issued 'Solo' as the finest exposition of Taylor's treble-stopping acoustic technique - which makes complex peformance so light on the ear. His technical skills are beyond question, of course, but that is not really the issue on 'Artistry'. Taylor evidently loves this music and he therefore performs it with enormous sensitivity, respect and interpretational skill. Fortunately the production and engineering are up to the mettle of the performances. The sound on the disc is warm but uncluttered.

With fingers and notes flying, 'restraint' is hardly a word you expect to come to mind. But in spite of his great proficiency, that is what Martin Taylor shows when it is needed. Everything is there for a purpose, and he uses his dexterity to emphasise the melodic and harmonic richness of the material. For some reason 'Artistry' (a very appropriate title) is not easily available in shops at the moment. You can listen to it and buy directly from Linn - or you can pick the odd copy up via Amazon.

Martin Taylor has a packed tour schedule between now and August, taking in the US, Japan, Australia and mainland Europe. He is next in England in Boxford, Suffolk, on 21-22 February, then Scotland on 23-25 May (Kirkmichael International Guitar Festival, Ayrshire), at the Bath Festival on 26 May with Bireli Lagrene, and with Martins4 at the Perth Festival (Scotland again) on 29th. There are further English dates between June and August.

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