Wednesday 28th August 2013
- Saturday 31st August 2013
£25.00 - £45.00
Famed for their upbeat, energetic live shows, British jazz-funk stalwarts, and hugely influential jazz/pop cross over stars, the James Taylor Quartet return to Ronnie Scott’s. Taylor’s driving Hammond organ has been leading the group for nearly twenty years, and the band show no signs of slowing down. Their relentlessly entertaining tunes take their inspiration from boogaloo funk of the sixties and the rare-groove style funk of the seventies.
Joined here by soulful vocalist Yanney and a punchy horn section for an exciting night of funky jazz and down home grooves!
JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET FULL BIOGRAPHY
For a quarter of a century, the James Taylor Quartet have set the standard for the coolest sounds in funky acid jazz. On dozens of mighty albums and at their legendary gigs at home and around the world, they’ve quietly become a byword for distinguished British creativity.
But the great artists never let the grass grow under their feet, and now James Taylor’s impassioned musical curiosity has led to the most ambitious and exciting project in JTQ’s illustrious history. Allow us to introduce the new album ‘Closer To The Moon,’ the like of which you’ve never heard — because in addition to their infectious trademark stylings, the quartet have brought together the worlds of jazz and classical music in a brilliant and
From the moment the metronome counts in at the top of ‘Tick Tock’ until the conclusion of the typically atmospheric, filmic title tune, ‘Closer To The Moon’ is a unique listening experience and a career landmark. Not to mention that it sports James’ first-ever lead vocal performance on ‘Closer To You’ and the little matter of a Beethoven piana sonata.
On ‘Closer To The Moon,’ released on his own Real Self label, Taylor’s trusty Hammond and the group’s ever-alluring horns are not content with delivering a range of juicy new jazz flavours. Throughout the record, they’re also conversing with a wild array of classical instrumentation, including celeste, vibes, harp, zither, gong, glockenspiel, even tubular bells, many of them
custom-built for the bandleader.
“I’ve been into classical music for a long time,” says Taylor. “It must have the fire to be really good, and when it does, it’s just amazing. You want it to explode the same way you want a Charlie Parker solo to explode, and very often it does.”
The follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed ‘The Template,’ the album was inspired by James’ life-changing opportunity to play the organ at the Royal Albert Hall, at the invitation of his longtime friend and collaborator Nitin Sawhney. These guys go back so far, they were at school and in their first band together at 15.
“We were always in the music rooms at school messing about with ideas,”James remembers. Sawhney was a touring member of JTQ before his solo career beckoned, then Taylor produced Nitin’s debut album, way back in 1990, with the future Anglo-Indian star’s first band the Jazztones.
“About two years ago, Nitin asked me to play the organ [The Sound of Jupiter, as it’s widely known] at the Albert Hall. It was for a 16-minute piece of his that was commissioned by them especially to reawaken interest in that particular instrument.”
For Taylor, this was a dream come true. “I was given several days to acquaint myself with the organ, I had the whole Albert Hall to myself and I spent the time blasting away at this incredible instrument. The sound was so powerful, it dwarfed any accompanist, and it was extremely beautiful. The purity of tone took my breath away. I thought wow, I’ve had a lifetime in music, and I’ve just discovered something about the beauty of tone.
“I was profoundly nervous to perform the piece in front of a sellout crowd, and then Nitin introduced me as ‘The UK’s finest organist,’ so no pressure!
Anyway, it went well, and I found the experience genuinely life-changing. I started a love affair with orchestral sounds, particularly those generated by metal, like celeste, vibes, glock, gong and tubular bells.”
After that, there was no stopping him. “I commissioned a new studio to be designed and installed at my house, and I also commissioned an orchestral master craftsman to build for me a set of bells and vibes. I commissioned Yamaha to build me a new celeste, I sourced a harp and a zither, and set about writing this new album, setting the Hammond in among these more classical settings.
“I thought ‘There’s something here to be joined together,’ and I realised it’s not something that’s been massively done. The jazz label CTI released bits of the Brandenburg Concerto played by Hubert Laws, and there’s some funk things in the ’70s which were classical but really commercial. But to do both things in a serious way, there’s been no real bridge between those two
worlds, because they just look in such different directions. It’s really interesting.”
The vocal track ‘Closer To You’ marks the first time that Taylor has recorded himself as a lead singer. It grew out of the haunting ‘Closer To The Moon,’ which John Barry himself would have been proud of. “That particular piece of music lends itself to a baritone,” says Taylor. “Slightly weird and spooky, with lots of reverb. I don’t know who else I’d have used to do a baritone,” he laughs, “apart from Frank Sinatra.”
Taylor has always been completely his own man, the dark horse who sings in his local Rochester Choral Society and has an entirely separate life as a psychotherapist. It was 1986 when the first Quartet coalesced after the demise of psychedelic mod scenesters the Prisoners. Notice of their dexterity in updating the cinematic jazz sound of the ’60s and ’70s, from spy themes to freeform jazz, was duly served with the debut single ‘Blow Up,’ followed by the ‘Mission Impossible’ EP. John Peel was soon offering a Radio 1 session.
The ensuing quarter-century has produced a bulging catalogue of remarkable albums and show-stopping gigs that continue to see JTQ in hot demand everywhere from Ronnie Scott’s to Rome. Along the way, there’ve been chart entries (notably the 1993 hit ‘Love The Life’ featuring Noel McKoy and the parent album ‘Supernatural Feeling,’ both of which nestled in the top 40), a MOBO Award nomination for 1998’s ‘Whole Lotta Live,’ and guest appearances by James with everyone from the Pogues and Manic Street Preachers to Tom Jones’ multi-platinum chart-topper ‘Reload.’
In a career that has embraced jazz, soul, rock, funk and often tipped its hat to classic detective and action movie soundtracks, JTQ delivered their own filmic moment in 1997, contributing ‘Austin’s Theme’ to the score album for ‘Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.’ In 2007, the band completed their full-scale Motown tribute, ‘Don’t Mess With Mr. T,’ featuring guest vocalists Omar, Hil St. Soul and Donna Gardier. The same year brought both the spinoff project James Taylor’s 4th Dimension and a Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Award nomination for JTQ.
That attraction to film music is deep-rooted in Taylor, who still marvels at such timeless images as the opening scene in ‘The Italian Job,’ where an Alfa Spider speeds through the Italian Alps to the accompaniment of Quincy Jones. “It’s the excitement of dealing with music that creates that sort of luxurious feeling.” he says. “And I find I don’t need to go to the ltalian Alps to do it.”
So let’s hear it for a band well past their first quarter-century but still finding new challenges to meet, new peaks to climb. “What interests me at the moment is combining those two disparate directions of jazz and classical music,” enthuses Taylor, “because there is a point at which they meet, and exploiting that creates such an excitement on stage. There’s something to kick against.”
Paul Sexton, JANUARY 2013
Blues & Soul Magazine review here: http://www.bluesandsoul.com/live_item/260/james_taylor_quartet_ronnie_scotts_london_200313/
Support (EARLY SHOW) Tom Cawley Quintet feat. Alex Garnett & Freddie Gavita
Tom Cawley - Piano
Callum Gourley - Bass
Jason Brown - Drums
Alex Garnett - Sax
Freddie Gavita - Trumpet
Pianist and composer Tom Cawley has been performing and recording with the country’s most successful and groundbreaking jazz artists for over ten years. Since winning the Young Jazz Musician of the Year award in 1998 he has played all over the world and led bands in residencies at the Blue Note club (New York) and Ronnie Scott’s (London).
Recently he has been instrumental in shaping the unique sound of the genre-bending iconoclasts Acoustic Ladyland, as well as writing and arranging songs with Gwyneth Herbert for her Blue Note debut album ‘Between Me And The Wardrobe’.
2007 saw the debut of Cawley’s much-acclaimed group Curios, a vehicle for Tom’s original music. The album, Hidden, made a startling impact on the jazz scene, winning a nomination as Best Album in the BBC Jazz Awards and reaching the top five in both the HMV and Radio 3 Jazz Charts. MOJO described the record as “an extraordinary collection of deeply personal, highly evolved music”; the Independent made Hidden Album Of The Week and called it “never less than spellbinding”, and Musician magazine declared Curios “a shining light for British jazz”.
An extensive UK tour confirmed their hype, prompting the Guardian to declare that “the startling promise of the album glows ever more brightly live”. Curios were subsequently recorded in session for Jazz On 3, and invited to appear at the new Royal Festival Hall in June. Shortly afterwards, John Fordham placed them on the cover of Jazz UK magazine and wrote a large article about the band in which he proclaimed, “Just when you think EST, or Brad Mehldau, ot The Bad Plus might have taken the piano trio as far as it can go, another keyboard talent opens another door. Pianist Tom Cawley has done just that with Curios”.
As a composer, Tom’s writing is informed by romantic classical music as much as by jazz, and his piano playing betrays many influences: Phineas Newborn, Brad Mehldau and all points in between. He has written for many types of ensemble, from a string quartet to a big band, and had compositions played in large venues such as the Festival Hall and the Cardiff Millennium Hall. Despite this breadth of experience, his style is his resolutely his own. As MOJO observed whilst reviewing Hidden, “any detectable influences are overwhelmed by the individuality of the conception, the imaginative compositions and the sheer skill of the execution.”
Support Wednesday: Dave Ohm's Units of Resistance
With new bands, mostly composed of post grad musicians, appearing almost every week, the prospect of seeing drummer Dave Ohm's Unit of Resistance (a clever name) with three genuine world class players, Nigel Hitchcock (tenor sax), Laurence Cottle (electric bass)and guitarist/producer Paul Stacey.
Known as "the powerhouse", the much -in-demand Dave Ohm is an irreplaceable and essential component of the Guerillasound trio... if only for his irrepressible good humour...
He has played, toured and recorded with amongst others, Benny Golson, Wessel Anderson, Mornington Lockett, Dave Newton,Claire Martin, Ian Shaw, Gwyneth Herbert, Jim Mullen, Pete King, Georgia Mancio, Clare Teal, Lea DeLaria, is a regular member of the Ronnie Scott's All Stars, appearing at the club Ronnie Scott's regularly.
Tell us what you think of The James Taylor Quartet feat. Yvonne Yanney vocals , Support Wednesday: Dave Ohm's Units of Resistance, Support (EARLY SHOW) Tom Cawley Quintet feat. Alex Garnett & Freddie Gavita below..