Martin Taylor - Spirit of Django - Film Music: A Neglected Art
While I'm enjoying the release immensely that was not my feeling on the very first listen. I tell you this so you'll not write it off as background/elevator music. I almost did this myself which would have meant this review would have never come to pass. Upon further listening I found this to be unique and special such as acoustic only guitars and the lack of a piano and percussion.
The ensemble consists of Martin Taylor acoustic guitar, John Goldie acoustic rhythm guitar, Alec Dankworth acoustic bass guitar and cabasa, Jack Emblow accordion, Dave O'Higgins tenor and soprano sax, and James Taylor snare drum. The sound from the acoustic material is superb, better than electric in my opinion, at least for this recording. The feeling that it transmits is intimate yet still projecting the jazz feeling of Django.
The opening track, "Chez Fernand," a Reinhardt composition, which I've included as an audio track, gives a good idea of the sound and the style as it includes the accordion and the sax both offering solos as well as the guitar section of the sextet. A long time favourite of mine is the 1932 number for Gay Divorce by Cole Porter. It is given the complete treatment (nearly 7 minutes) with the sax work of O'Higgins being featured. "Nuages" takes me back to the days of Antonio Carlos Jobim and his Latin style in a track that features Martin Taylor with John Goldie making his presence felt with some fine rhythm guitar always present in the background. Django Reinhardt, composer would have been proud with the treatment his unofficial theme song was given. "Lady Be Good," a 1924 song from Gershwin, features the fine accordion of Emblow and Taylor's guitar lead. "Honeysuckle Rose," a Fats Waller tune, begins in a soft romantic vein, music you might relate to in an intimate dining experience but three minutes into the track the gears shift and there is a fine tenor sax solo from O'Higgins that make you think of Coltrane. There are also two additional Django numbers "Swing 42″ and "Minor Swing" as well as an original Martin track "Django Dream," one not to be missed.
I look forward to exploring more of Taylor as well as Ray Gelato Giants, Barb Jungr, Carol Kidd, and Claire Martin, additional Linn recording artists. The mastering was a nice well balanced recording with good highs and lows that made my speakers sound even better. There was no need on my part to change any of my settings on my amplifier. I typically listen flat with no added treble or bass and this CD fit right in. Please take the time to visit their website and look at their complete catalogue as well as the different downloads available to you.
While I have no complaints with the music as you've just read I feel there was an omission in not listing the composers of each track. This shouldn't influence your purchase in anyway but perhaps future releases will include this information.
Well done Linn Records!!!