"Throughout the history of the medium only a small handful of jazz guitarists have possessed the technique and unerring musical sense required to create exciting and complete music without the aid of a rhythm section. Martin’s solo work, like Art Tatum’s solo piano, is unsurpassed. He is one of the true giants of jazz guitar...a unique voice." David Hungate - Producer
Born in 1956, it was just four years later that Martin Taylor was given his first guitar by his jazz musician father, Buck Taylor. Although inspired initially by the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, it was to be piano players, most notably Art Tatum, that caught his imagination and set him on the path of developing his own individual style of solo guitar playing.
Leaving school at fifteen he left the British Isles bound for New York, playing on the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II and spending the next two years working in the Caribbean. His rapidly developing musicianship soon won him many admirers and in 1978 he made his debut album "Taylor Made".
The following year he received a call from Stephane Grappelli inviting him to play in a series of concerts in France. The great jazz violinist was so impressed that he asked him to join him on a coast to coast tour of the US, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl. It was the beginning of an eleven year collaboration which took in numerous world tours and over 20 albums, including recordings with Michel Legrand, Peggy Lee, Yehudi Menuhin, Nelson Riddle and the soundtrack for the Louis Malle movie "Milou en Mai".
Alongside his work with Grappelli he was still pursuing his solo career, receiving wide critical acclaim for his album "Sarabanda" recorded in Los Angeles in 1987 and featuring bassist John Patitucci, Brazilian percussionist Paulinho Da Costa and produced by Toto bassist David Hungate.
In 1990 Taylor made his first album for Linn Records, "Don’t Fret" (Linn AKD 014), and decided to concentrate completely on his solo career. His second album, "Change of Heart" (Linn AKD 016), soon followed and in 1993 he made his critically acclaimed solo album, "Artistry", which topped the UK Jazz Charts for six weeks. In the same year Grappelli and Taylor briefly joined forces again to make a duo album, "Reunion" (Linn AKD 022) and were the subject of a BBC TV documentary.
British audiences will be familiar with his next Linn recording "Spirit of Django" (Linn AKD 237) through his version on Robert Palmer’s "Johnny and Mary" which was used for the famous ‘Nicole - Papa!’ TV commercial for the Renault Clio. "Portraits" (Linn AKD 048), his sixth album for Linn Records, was recorded in Nashville, Hamburg and Scotland and, although primarily a solo album, it has been an opportunity for Martin to work once again with two old friends, David Hungate and the legendary guitar picker Chet Atkins.
"Years Apart" (Linn AKD 058), another outing for the Spirit of Django band, was released in 1996 to critical acclaim and public popularity. It also won the BT British Jazz Awards in two categories : Best Guitar and Best Small Group.
As a much sought after concert performer Martin Taylor spends much of his time touring the world - Europe, America, the Far East and Australia are all regular destinations. When not touring he lives on a farm in Scotland where he writes music for TV and film.
On Saturday June 15th 2002, Martin was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire. The MBE, awarded to Taylor by Her Majesty The Queen for his services to jazz, was presented to him at Buckingham Palace in 2002. "I'm completely amazed and absolutely thrilled," commented Taylor. "It really is an honour to be recognised in this way for doing what I love doing best - music has been my life's inspiration and I couldn't imagine ever doing anything else. It's brilliant!"
In 2007 Martin won the The BBC Radio 2's "Heart of Jazz" Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award for his "Contribution to Jazz Guitar Worldwide" from the North Wales International Guitar Festival.
For further information -
Crescendo & Jazz Music
Martin Taylor's beautiful playing is simply a revelation. This disc should be in everyone's collectionmore >>The Observer
a new and entirely original way to explore and extend the musical world of Django Reinhardt.more >>In-tune International
Johnny And Mary is recognisable from its use as the theme to the Renault "Nichole-Papa" television commercial.more >>Jazz Rag
A balanced overview of the 1990s work of an utterly remarkable guitaristmore >>The Scotsman
Taylor plays with all his customary brilliance.more >>Crescendo and Jazz Music
What an exhibition of style and sympathy! Seek this one out.more >>Rolling Stone
Definitely the album of the year.more >>The Guardian
As revivalists go, Martin Taylor's Spirit of Django rank among the more ingenious.
THE GUARDIANChet Atkins
Martin Taylor is one of the greatest and most impressive guitar players in the world. I just love his playing. This association has been quite an honour for me.Jazz Action Review
... the ultimate in mellow jazz ... The perfect record for when two is truly company.
JAZZ ACTION SOCIETYJazz on CD
....a blend of nostalgia and new discoveries ... a fine album from two highly individual musicians who clearly enjoy their reunion.
JAZZ ON CDGramophone Magazine
... deliberation, elegance and musical intelligence.
... a quite outstanding album of elegant jazz .