Martin Taylor

Sketches: A Tribute to Art Tatum

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Martin Taylor's earliest recordings have long been difficult to acquire, but they finally reappeared in 2006 on this P3Music CD reissue. The masterful guitarist was already a dazzling player in 1983, when the solo performances on this disc were recorded. Taylor intended his tribute to incorporate the spirit, warmth, and humor of Art Tatum, without trying to duplicate the legendary pianist's pyrotechnics on guitar, which would have been impossible, in any case. Tatum only recorded six of the first ten compositions, though Taylor succeeds in getting the listener to imagine what fun he might have had playing other songs, working a brief excerpt of Gershwin's "An American in Paris" into Jerome Kern's "Ol' Man River." His breathtaking dash through "Taking a Chance on Love" and the lively tribute "Blues for Mr. T" also merit strong praise. When Taylor tackles Tatum's favorite standards, it becomes clear that a virtuoso is in the making, especially with his show-stopping finale of "All the Things You Are." Three 1978 duets with guitarist Ike Isaacs, who was a very important mentor to Taylor during his early years, are an added bonus.

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