Billy Taylor

Billy Taylor Touch/One for Fun

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Billy Taylor's touch at the piano is supple, stylish, and elegant. It was cultivated in the New York City bop scene of the 1940s, where Taylor played in combos led by Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Pettiford, and others. Taylor's bebop heart and mind are happily at work throughout this 75-minute CD of upbeat, swinging music that brings together two LPs made up of three distinct sessions. Throughout, Taylor's sophisticated ease of execution, his rich musical imagination, and the strong support of his sidemen make this a classy and satisfying compilation. Seven of the tracks for The Billy Taylor Touch were recorded with Taylor's first regular trio in 1951. On these, Taylor, bassist Earl May, and drummer Ed Thigpen are joined by the fine guitarist John Collins, a rhythm specialist who gives the music much of its personality. Collins would make a similar contribution later in the '50s with the Nat "King" Cole trio. There are also four tracks from a 1958 session, again with Taylor joined by May and Thigpen. On One for Fun from 1960, May is back on bass, this time with Kenny Denis on drums. The set has a more contemporary feel than the earlier tracks and features three Taylor originals, including the cool, yet cooking, "A Little Southside Soul." Among the standout tracks, the Rogers and Hart classic "Blue Moon" is transformed by Taylor and company into a vehicle for some of the CD's best solo and group work.

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