In 1999 a limited issue CD, featuring the talents of the trombonist Lawrence Brown made an all too brief appearance. In a 1955 recording session Brown was teamed in an unlikely pairing with Sam "The Man" Taylor whose robust tenor playing livened up what otherwise might well have been a sedate affair.
Barely remembered today Taylor's aggressive honking sound was a virtual template for many of the tenor breaks on rhythm and blues recordings of the 1950s. In October 1958 Taylor masterminded two sessions in a successful attempt to get back to his jazz roots. He was very fortunate with the participating musicians which included Charlie Shavers & Thad Jones (trumpet), Jimmy Cleveland (trombone), Georgie Auld & Budd Johnson (reeds), Hank Jones (piano), Milt Hinton (bass) and Osie Johnson (drums). Stand-out solo work was also provided by the guitar work of Billy Bauer. In addition to five compositions Taylor paid a tribute to his favourite tenor players (Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Georgie Auld, Ben Webster & Illinois Jacquet) in a selection of tunes closely associated with these performers. The music is cheerfully robust and there are good solo passages.
As a bonus eight tunes are included from the middle 1950s which gives a good example of Taylor's more 'rocking' style. The personnel is uncertain but the undervalued musician Haywood Henry is believed to be a participant. Blessed with a stately and magisterial tone Henry was for some years the reed anchor man with Erskine Hawkins and was Duke Ellington's musician of choice to deputise for an absent Harry Carney.
In addition to the CD under review only one other example of Taylor's work is currently available on CD. "Swingstation" contains 14 tunes, 8 of which are repeats of those available on "Jazz for Commuters" and it is an entirely 'rocking' affair. This CD, with only a short playing time, provides some enjoyment but is not an essential purchase.