Martin Taylor is a brilliant virtuoso guitarist, melodic, swinging and capable of providing his own rhythmic accompaniment whatever the tempo. He is not particularly like any other guitarist, not even Django, although there is a striking resemblance to Joe Pass whenever Pass used to set off on one of his virtuoso solo displays. Alan Barnes is a fine mainstream / modern saxophonist who here limits himself to clarinet, on which he plays superbly. He has a smooth liquid tone, with some vibrato, and comes across like a combination of one of the great Creole clarinets and a relaxed version of Buddy De Franco. There is a varied programme of tunes, including jazz standards like 'Ain't Misbehavin'' and several attractive ballads, such as 'Willow Weep For Me' and 'Gone With The Wind'. There are also a couple of attractive originals, 'Serafina' and 'Lola Flores', both slightly exotic but wholly successful. A lightning version of 'The Song Is You' makes you marvel at the sheer technique of the guitarist. All are attractive tunes and lend themselves well to the intimate, tuneful jazz the two men play. So why not five stars? On 'Stranger On The Shore', 'Two For The Road', 'Slow Coach' and above all 'On Mother Kelly's Doorstep' the tunes are not good enough. Taylor is reduced to bravura display, without sufficient harmonic or melodic interest, and Barnes loses the flowing melodic lines he played on the other tunes, struggling to fit in to the odd spaces left by the guitar. Whoever had the idea of playing 'On Mother Kelly's Doorstep' should be thoroughly ashamed of himself! So, for the jazzers amongst us, pretty good, but the guitar buffs will no doubt be mightily impressed!
This CD is an excellent interpretation of some jazz classics by two first class musicians. The style is at times beautifully old fashioned. My wife likes it more than some of my more "modern jazz"!An excellent buy if you like your jazz relaxing.
I've just returned from my local jazz club where Alan Barnes played several of the tracks from this fine album albeit without Martin Taylor. Alan Barnes is without question one the UK's finest jazz reed players and on this album, featuring his clarinet playing, the teaming of the guitar of Martin Taylor produces jazz of the highest quality. Now stop reading this and buy the album!