The Cellar, a prominent Vancouver jazz club, is where this live performance by tenor sax man Ross Taggart and his quartet was recorded. Not just another group of young players trying to find an identity, the group has molded a special sound by melding the urgency and occasional dissonance of hard bop with the urban blues aura created by the Hammond B-3 organ of Bob Murphy and the guitar of Mike Rud. The play list is made up mostly of Taggart originals conceived to best fit this stylistic orientation. "Shorter Days" (deceptively titled perhaps, since it runs for more than nine minutes), as much as any entry in the program, captures the essence of this session. Sax and organ combine soulful resonance with bluesy interludes by guitar, all atop the steady drumming of Bernie Arai. Taggart's music allows for maximum participation by each member of the quartet, encouraging excursions into the realm of improvisational fancy. To the delight of the audience, the performers take full advantage of this leniency, but not to the point of performance anarchy. One hears throughout each track a thread linking the extemporizations to the tune's melody. A sense of continuity is also fostered by the way each picks up the idea of the preceding player, adding his embellishments to the motif. There is also plenty of give and take. On "Match the Hatch," Taggart's sax and Rud's guitar converse, with Murphy's organ serving as interlocutor. Importantly, the melodies selected for the play list, with their lilting quality, are exceedingly pleasing to the ear. Even when there is a move toward the more adventurous playing, the listener isn't alienated. This is a fine first outing by an excellent gathering of up and coming young players, and is recommended.
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