Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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James Taylor Quartet: Ronnie Scotts, London, 20/03/13

James Taylor Quartet (JTQ) Ft. Yvonne Yanney: Ronnie Scotts 20/03/13
James Taylor Quartet (JTQ) Ft. Yvonne Yanney: Ronnie Scotts 20/03/13 James Taylor (JTQ): Ronnie Scotts, London 20/03/13

Jazz, soul, funk music (call it what you will) and incomparable musicianship just go inseparably hand in hand. The art of improvisation is based on collective instincts that skilled musicians hone after years of working together, suffice to say, there is no substitute or short cuts in gaining this vast experience, the likes of which JTQ have in droves.

So if you’re a jazz fan, you’ll have a difficult time not enjoying almost any concert these musicians play in. Tonight was no exception from the off James Taylor hit the ground running like a pumped up paratrooper ready to get into the thick of the action and do battle as quick as possible...

No siree, no polite jazz 12 bar to get the feel and sound of the room just a quick noodle on the organ and then bang straight into a swinging heavy groove entitled "paralello" - a glorious two chord swinger from his latest album "Closer To The Moon."

This latest offering is an affirmation of Taylor's long-recognised gifts and a glimpse of what road he is heading down, heartily demonstrated by blindingly searing stuff. My favourite, a jazz waltz called "Proctor Quod Et Deus" got a look in and was the standout track of the evening. Yes this and the other four new numbers had me enthralled, "Spencer Takes A Trip" my second fave, is a real moody Barryesque/Budd barnstormer and should be the new Bond theme it's that good! Let's just say Taylor's Hammond credentials are a given. He flashes and rips through the night like musical cheesewire with inexhaustible inventiveness.

Skeptics decry the limitations of the Hammond genre, but when it's played with this much brashness and polish, you're inclined to reply, "Limitations?!!" He has an innate capacity to swing just like Pierrepoint himself, direct and no messin! Sheer Quality.

The first set didn't go by without a stonking cover either. JTQ ripped through a speedy version of "Green Onions" to the delight of the crowd, who found themselves singing the legendary melody as magician James turned the tables on us! There is a hell of a showman in him and he uses his vast crowd control skills to deadly effect-putty in his hands we were!

A couple of times during the second set, JT cools his ebullient virtuosity long enough to perform his stock in trade repertoire, featuring vocalist Yvonne Yanney, who seemed reticent to take centre stage. But soon livened up when the vocal song fans showed their appreciation and had their quotient fill of jazz funk fodder.

Back on track with a blast of the "Starsky & Hutch" theme, saw the band coming into the home straight. As Ray Winstone says, "It's all in the interplay" and this band KNOW interplay! Bassist Andrew McKinney is the midfielder general not too busy, but making his presence felt and heard in a variety of tonal and rhythmic ways along with a propulsive drummer - damn fine guitarist. Plus the horn section pushing and pulling solo counterpoints between themselves, this really was to die for! It doesn't get much better.

The atmospheric was electric, transforming Ronnie's into some sort up market jazz joint on the chitlin circuit, as the smell of roast chicken dinners pervaded the room - for me it somewhat disappointingly, sullied the mood JTQ mustered. Nevertheless the diners were just as thrilled as I was to be witnessing such a powerhouse gig.

The feel good factor of cracking versions of "The Ghetto" merged with a touch of Santana and Carol king, in the shape of "Oye Como Va "and" I feel T he Earth Move" complete a satisfyingly good night. JT knows well chosen covers wins crowds and this, the first of four sell out nights, was a definite winner. A top night from a class act!

Images care of B&S' Romain Kedochim - More visit ROMAIN PHOTOGRAPHY
Words Emrys Baird

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