Taylor, Mike - Mike Taylor Remembered vinyl lp (due to size and weight, this price for the USA only. Outside of the USA, the price will be adjusted as needed)

This is an album of Mike Taylor's music, but Mike Taylor doesn't appear on it because he had been dead for 5 years by the time of this previously unreleased Lansdowne recording by his friends who are paying tribute to him and his work here. This includes many of his unreleased compositions and in most cases it also includes his original arrangements of those scores. Musicians here include Henry Lowther, Ian Carr (trumpets), Barbara Thompson, Ray Warleigh, Stan Sulzman, Dave Gelly (reeds) Peter Lemer (piano), Ron Matthewson, Chris Laurence (bass), Jon Hiseman (drums), Norma Winstone (voice), Neil Ardley (arrangements) and many others. Unbelievable that such a Brit-jazz treasure has lain unreleased for almost 35 years, but there you go. Recommended!!

"It was a strange time, a precarious, edgy sort of time. In the arts, all the ruleswere in process of being torn up, and people were going mad in quite serious numbers, mainly from the effects of various recreational substances. One of them was Mike Taylor. Those who encountered him only towards the end of his life, when he was more or less a vagrant, probably dismissed him as just another barefoot crazy, but before his brain gave up the struggle he had a unique musical vision and was resolutely devoted to pursuing it. I first heard of Mike Taylor from Jon Hiseman. This would be towards the end of 1963, and we were both members of what was to become the New Jazz Orchestra. Jon was probably the most dedicated and well-organised musician I had ever met. Although he then had a day job, every moment of his own time was carefully portioned out into practice, rehearsal and performing, in order to yield the maximum benefit in technique and experience. So when he told me that he was devoting two whole evenings a week to rehearsing with an unknown pianist-composer called Mike Taylor - and driving from Eltham to Ilford, a two-hour round trip, in order to do it - I was prepared to believe that he had found something special. When I eventually got to hear Mike's quartet (Mike, Jon, bassist Tony Reeve and saxophonist Dave Tomlin) it was not at all what I had been expecting. I suppose I had imagined something in the currently fashionable avant garde style - something loud and passionate and possibly 'free-form' - but Mike's music was, if anything, quite the reverse. It was certainly unconventional, and quite puzzling at times, but it was sharp-edged, intricate and very precise. There could certainly be no doubt that a huge amount of detailed work and thought had gone into making it exactly the way it was. 'He was extremely positive about the direction he wanted to take,' Jon Hiseman recalls. 'Playing clever things over a chord sequence wasn't enough. There had to be more to it - more depth, more emotional communication. When we were working on a piece in rehearsal he would sometimes sit absolutely still and silent at the piano until he came to a considered view on exactly what he wanted. And that would be it.' There was quite a lot of jazz about in London and the south-east at the time, although it was mostly shoestring stuff, played in the back rooms of pubs, with musicians collecting a share of the door money. Nobody made a living from it. Nevertheless, the Melody Maker, Jazz News and other papers did at least attempt to cover this activity by publishing brief live reviews and profiles. There was also a certain amount of live jazz on BBC Radios Two and Three, which, unlike today's celebrity-obsessed media, were mildly receptive to new and untried talents. As a result, the Mike Taylor Quartet was given a half-hour programme in one of the current weekly jazz strands (nobody seems to remember exactly which one), under a title something like 'New Sounds, New Faces'. The reaction was remarkably enthusiastic. Perhaps as a result of the interest generated by the broadcast, the Mike Taylor Quartet was booked to appear as support to Ornette Coleman's band for a single concert at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, on 29th July 1965. In the Pantheon of jazz benefactors and all-round good eggs, the name of Denis Preston deserves an honoured place. Once described by The Gramophone as 'an impresario of near-genius', Preston, who died in 1979, ran a company called Record Supervision, that recorded music which he then licensed for release by major labels. He did not confine himself to jazz, but much of the best British jazz recorded between the 1950s and the 1970s saw the light of day because he chose to record it. It was Ian Carr who first brought Mike Taylor to Preston's attention. Impressed by Mike's dedication and the evident originality of his music, Preston recorded an album by the quartet in 1965, released the following year by Columbia, under the title Pendulum. It would be a mistake to claim that Pendulum scored a wild success, but it did well enough to make a second album possible. This was Trio, released in 1967, which featured Mike, Jon and two bassists, Jack Bruce and Ron Rubin, sometimes alternating and sometimes together. Mike's audience, while still small, grew markedly as a result of the two Columbia albums, both enthusiastically reviewed in the music press..... Then there was the 18-piece New Jazz Orchestra (NJO), under the leadership of composer Neil Ardley, again with Jon on drums, of which I, too, was a member. Mike came along to one of our rehearsals with a full band score of 'Pendulum', but the encounter wasn't a success. Devoted though he was, Mike had not really mastered the skills of orchestration, and his method of rehearsing consisted simply of waiting until the whole thing came to grinding halt, going back to the beginning and starting again, with the same result. The NJO did eventually play several of Mike's pieces (including 'Pendulum'), recorded a few and broadcast several more, but the orchestrations were mainly the work of Neil Ardley. Mike also wrote songs, either providing his own lyrics or collaborating with another writer. Dave Tomlin contributed words to some songs, so did the jazz poet Pete Brown and also Ginger Baker. Cream's third album, Wheels Of Fire, included three Taylor/Baker pieces - 'Pressed Rat And Warthog', 'Those Were The Days' and 'Passing The Time'. The proceeds from these alone would eventually have made Mike comfortably off, but he died before that could happen.... This was in November 1967, by which time a change had begun to take place, both in Mike's appearance and his general demeanour. He had grown a beard and his hair straggled over his collar. Never an outgoing character, he seemed to avoid speech unless it was strictly necessary. He had always been an enthusiastic smoker of dope, but now branched out into more exotic materials. Ron Rubin remembers Mike and Dave Tomlin extolling the mind-bending powers of some stuff which he now thinks was probably LSD. Mike, whose brief marriage had collapsed some time before, had been sharing a flat in Kew with his brother, Terry. He now left the flat, to embark on a wandering existence in a series of squats, and Jon took over his lease, with Terry as his lodger. At some point during the change-over, Jon arrived to find the dustbin overflowing with what looked like waste paper. On closer inspection this turned out to be a pile of Mike's manuscripts, the remainder of which he had already burnt. Jon promptly rescued the contents of the dustbin, and this forms the basis of much of the music heard on this LP..... There is no exact date for Mike Taylor's death. His body was pulled out of the Thames estuary, near Southend, in late January 1969. He had been in the water for some time and it took the police more than a week to make a positive identification. He lies buried at Leigh-on-Sea, Essex....And so we come to the present album, Mike Taylor Remembered, the most fulsome tribute of all. It was recorded over two days in June 1973, at Denis Preston's Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park, London. (It was originally intended to record in December 1972, but there wasn't time to get everything together.) It would be hard to find more eloquent testimony to the esteem in which Preston held Mike's talent. By the standards of jazz recording at the time the whole thing must have cost a fortune, with around twenty musicians coming and going and different orchestration for each of the ten pieces. Because of the curious circumstances in which the manuscripts had been left (i.e. in a dustbin), very little of the music was complete. Sometimes there was simply a melody line, or a sketchy piano part, sometimes just a stray page. Fortunately, some of us knew a fair bit of Mike's music already, especially Jon Hiseman, who had lived with many pieces from their conception. Neil Ardley acted as Musical Director, but he was keen not to write all the scores himself, because, as he explained, everything would then come out as Taylor/Ardley music. If a few different hands tackled the task, each would bring a personal approach and the result was likely to give more a rounded impression of Mike's musical personality and the breadth of his talent. So why did this very ambitious project not see the light of day until now? I suspect it was because the environment changed. The fat years, when record companies were awash with pop money and prepared to indulge enthusiasts like Denis Preston in the occasional extravagance, came to an end. They were followed by the lean years, when nobody was prepared to venture a penny without the certainty of a good return. Denis had put a lot of money into the Mike Taylor project and wanted to get at least some of it back, but the major-label cash-point was closed. Then everybody got busy doing other things and the world moved on."-Dave Gelly, London, March 2007
  • LabelLantern Heights
  • UPC781930069373
Your Price $42.00

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