Concert Review – Martin Taylor at Lichfield Guildhall

Concert Review: Martin Taylor – Lichfield Guildhall – Friday March 24th

Reviewed by Ben Macnair with photos by Dave Jones

With little more than a guitar, a flawless musical technique and music from a range of sources, one of the world’s leading solo jazz guitarists, Martin Taylor gave a masterclass in authoritative music-making when he played at Lichfield Guildhall on Friday March 24th.

The attentive audience listened intently as he played classics from the jazz songbook, arrangements of big band music, and his own compositions and shared stories from his varied career in jazz, that has now lasted for more than half a century.

Martin Taylor at Lichfield Guildhall

The first half of the concert consisted of a lot of straight jazz, with songs by George Gershwin, Django Reinhardt and arrangements of songs made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra. Taylor’s own playing style, encompassing bass parts, partial chords, and dextrous tune and improvisation playing took as much from pianists such as Bill Evans, as it did from other guitarists, so each piece was a musically complete experience without descending into displays of virtuosity for the sake of it. Songs such as They Can’t Take That Away from Me mixed the vocal melody in with a swinging rhythm and a steady rolling bass, whilst the version of Ray Charles’s Georgia on My Mind was a display of moody, bluesy introspection.

I Got Rhythm, which finished the first half was an exhausting display of dexterity, velocity, and chordal playing that showed just what is possible on a guitar with a lot of talent, and a lot of practice.

Martin Taylor at Lichfield Guildhall

The second half of the concert included solo guitar arrangements of songs from the poppier side of Jazz. Opener Some Day My Prince Will Come was an adaptation of Bill Evans’s version, whilst Don’t Know Why, a hit for Norah Jones a while ago took the tune through a number of different moods. Martin Taylor played some of his own music, ranging from the delicate ballad of True, to the joyful, upbeat swing of Down at the Kokomo, whilst a reading of the familiar I wish That I Knew How It Felt To Be Free was a fitting way to end a concert that was full of musical adventures.

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