Past Tells is virtuoso bass trombonist David Taylor's daring attempt to draw together his disparate musical interests. An in-demand sessionman with a sound as robust as the darkest chocolate, Taylor has graced classical chamber music groups, avant garde jazz sessions, and the Duke Ellington Orchestra during the last days of the maestro's reign. Taylor touches all these bases in this sprawling date. Opening with a sentimental evocation of Bach it includes a salty burlesque tribute to Lenny Bruce by David Schiff and touches of free jazz. References to American iconoclast composer Charles Ives serve as an emulsifier, but prove not binding enough to keep the stylistic layers from separating. While Taylor's "Past Tells" manages to create an effective mosaic using colleagues from the downtown scene of the period, David Noon's "Tailor Made" proves too scattered with taped segments of a Woodrow Wilson speech on Indian affairs and a recording of Irish tenor John McCormack singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" overwhelming the "live" music. (This would undoubtedly be more effective performed on stage when the theatrical presence of the musicians would counter-balance the samples. ) Schiff's piece has Taylor declaiming bits of Lenny Bruce's monologue "To is a preposition." With it's swooning lounge act saxophones the piece provides an eerie echo of the 1950s and gives the leader a chance to flex his acting chops. Despite the success of individual parts and Taylor's efforts to link the individual numbers intellectually, the session as a whole never coalesces.
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AllMusic Review by David Dupont