11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Moving hearts; moving feet,
This review is from: New World (Audio CD)
Having released an energetic live album in 2008 and a Motown tribute in 2007, the James Taylor Quartet return to the sort of classy jazz-funk that was evident on their 2006 release "A Taste of Cherry". As ever, their sound is instantly recognisable but has moved on again and, whereas the new element in "A Taste of Cherry" was brought by Nigel Price's guitar work, here the defining sound is added by Nick Smart's beautiful horn arrangements.
The other progression for this album is the huge variety of sounds and styles which are covered, without ever losing a sense of continuity. Mr Taylor's trademark Hammond organ is joined by a number of other keyboard sounds, such as the Fender Rhodes electric piano, the Hohner Clavinet and a Bluthner grand piano all of which expand the JTQ sound.
The album begins with a fierce statement of intent as organ doubles bass and Adam Betts's crashing drums set the pace for "Blacksmith" before colour is added by flute and Rhodes. Later on the album is a sort of accompanying piece in "Stonemason" where the sledgehammer drums accompany a driving, Brian Auger-esque jazz-rock tune.
Next is the dreamy "Rochester Raining", a classy piece of fusion which begins with an evocation of rain but soon picks up into something sunnier, in a similar vein to the title track.
"Same Old Fool" is the first of two tracks to feature the vocals of Corrina Greyson and is a funky workout with a Donald Byrd feel. The other is the party funk of "Get on Your Feet", which makes you want to do just that and is likely to be a live favourite.
"Inner Mystic Love" is a beautiful, piano-led samba that makes moving irresistible, whilst also being highly evocative. Later, the grand piano is used in more reflective mood for "Blue Lady", an affecting ballad of introspective delights.
The breakneck, cop show funk of "Hotwire" leads into the sophisticated jazz-funk of "The Jazz Cafe Theme" before the album closes on a truly uplifting note, as the grand piano takes the lead again for the gospel-inflected "Milk and Honey" which has echoes of Ramsey Lewis, Billy Taylor and even Nina Simone.
The JTQ continue to plough their own little niche, making records that will be bought by their in-the-know fans but escaping the notice of the majority of the record-buying public. Which is a pity because music like this deserves to be heard, having the musicianship of jazz and the accessibility of rock or pop. It is a cliche that musicians always declare in interviews that their latest album is their best and yet, in this case, that might just be true. It is certainly a collection of very fine tunes which are brilliantly played and has the power to move both emotionally and physically.