This month John Wheatcroft looks at an­other side to per­haps the UK’s finest jazz gui­tarist, the in­cred­i­ble Martin Tay­lor.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

John Wheatcroft meets a true leg­end of jazz gui­tar, the in­cred­i­ble Howard Roberts.

Martin Tay­lor, or to give him his full ti­tle, Dr Martin Tay­lor, MBE, is one of the most suc­cess­ful jazz gui­tarist the UK has ever pro­duced. With good rea­son too, as he is an ab­so­lute mon­ster. Whereas most mu­si­cians would con­tent them­selves with one spe­cial­ity, over Martin’s ex­ten­sive ca­reer he has proved him­self to be equally ac­com­plished in a hugely vary­ing ar­ray of set­tings. Whether it be en­sem­ble or solo, ac­com­pa­nist or band leader, Martin’s stag­ger­ing tech­ni­cal mastery and in­nate stylis­tic un­der­stand­ing al­lows him to deal with the unique chal­lenges pre­sented by such con­trast­ing per­for­mance sit­u­a­tions.

The mu­sic of Django Rein­hardt has been an ever-present in­flu­ence in Tay­lor’s life, from his ear­li­est ex­po­sure to this style by his fa­ther, the bassist William ‘Buck’ Tay­lor, who fre­quently per­formed Django’s ma­te­rial, to the decade or so that Martin spent as ‘solo gui­tare’ in Stephane Grap­pelli’s later-era all-string en­sem­ble. Martin’s Spirit Of Django cel­e­brates these con­nec­tions and he is al­ways wel­comed by Django’s fam­ily and the gypsy com­mu­nity as a whole. He reg­u­larly per­forms in a duo set­ting with the Gypsy gui­tar ace, Biréli La­grène - a pair­ing not to be missed.

We’re fo­cus­ing to­day on Martin’s plec­trum based sin­gle-note solo­ing tech­nique, as he might em­ploy when play­ing in a band sit­u­a­tion. His phras­ing, note se­lec­tion and rhyth­mic com­mand are su­perb and his lines in­di­cate a com­plete as­sim­i­la­tion of the his­tory of jazz. You can al­ways dis­cern the rhyth­mic in­ten­tion of ev­ery­thing he plays; the har­mony is so ex­plicit in his note choice that you could take any of the nine ex­am­ples that fol­low, play them un­ac­com­pa­nied and you’d still be to­tally aware of the un­der­ly­ing har­mony.

While spend­ing time wood­shed­ding in iso­la­tion is use­ful, fo­cus­ing on su­per-spe­cific is­sues, it’s also im­mea­sur­ably ben­e­fi­cial to play with other mu­si­cians. Martin’s re­sumé is also a tes­ta­ment to the lev­els you can reach when you keep such good com­pany. The amaz­ing Ike Isaacs men­tored Martin dur­ing his for­ma­tive years, so with this in mind get to­gether with like-minded bassists, pi­ano play­ers, sax soloists and drum­mers to glean har­monic and rhyth­mic ideas. So, while learn­ing the ex­am­ples is a sig­nif­i­cant ac­com­plish­ment, the ul­ti­mate goal is to as­sim­i­late the vo­cab­u­lary, con­cepts, and tech­niques and then ap­ply them when you get to­gether with other mu­si­cians to play. You’ll have a great time do­ing this, and I’m cer­tain that Martin would be the first to agree.

When I Was four years old, I pIcked up my dad’s guI­tar and started to play It. ap­par­ently I made very quIck progress Martin Tay­lor

NEXT MONTH John takes a look at the play­ing of leg­endary US jazzer Howard Roberts

Martin Tay­lor play­ing one of his sig­na­ture model gui­tars

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