James Taylor Quartet 15:02:2019

The Sherling Studio, Lighthouse, Poole

There’s something about an intimate venue and a sell-out audience, particularly when it’s for an act that would usually pack a place twice its size or more. No matter that a sizeable majority of the house are seasoned jazzers that have seen it all before – at least once – this stuff matters.

The tingling Afrobeat of locally based Thokozile Collective provides the quickening so that when James Taylor revs up his Hammond organ the sense of anticipation from the standing room only Sherling Studio is palpable. There’s no vocalist, but the Hammond howls as, ever the showman, Taylor builds the set, loosening then shedding his snug fitted jacket and tie, so that by the time he releases his tucked in shirt tails he’s ready to hit the hard stuff. Hard. 

It’s certain that Booker T’s Green Onions would trip out of his Hammond on muscle memory alone, yet somehow JT pulls a sing-along out of the hat – quite a feat for an instrumental. Time Is Tight gets the dancers going and Taylor keeps them there with the all out funk assault of the JTQ Theme as he guides us by the hand of the inevitable towards a barnstorming Theme from Starsky & Hutch that’s almost surpassed by the responsive encore All Wrapped Up.

As heard on the recent album Soundtrack from Electric Black, Taylor continues to push the boundaries of his instrument in the studio, but his absolute mastery of it comes into its own in the live arena where, propelled by his regular rhythm section of Alan KcKinney on bass and drummer Pat Illingworth, he can turn the groove on a sixpence and still find room to coach youthful vibes ace Jonny Mansfield to reach new heights.

Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter… as Ike and Tina would have had it.

Nick Churchill

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