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John Taylor Trio: Rosslyn

Rosslyn will come as a shock to those who have not kept up with British pianist John Taylor over the past 40 years: It is one of the important piano trio recordings of the new millennium to date.

It has been easy to not follow the career of John Taylor, especially from the United States. Although he has appeared on 18 ECM albums going back to 1977, he has rarely recorded under his own name, and he’s never done so for ECM. Many who hear Taylor for the first time will assign him to that large, active pianistic category called the Bill Evans School. Taylor recalls Evans in his introspective intellectual romanticism, and he also shares more substantive elements of the style. These include precision of fingering, a sensuous yet firm touch, harmonic erudition, an elongated sense of line and a rapt lyricism that makes all songs ballads, even very fast ones. But Taylor is his own man. He often breaks his ideational flow into irregular fragments very different from the results of Evans’ processes, and he is interested in material from composers like Ralph Towner and Kenny Wheeler, whose structures are liberated from the popular songs that were Evans’ focus. Taylor’s own compositions, like the mesmerizing title track, are cumulatively incantatory in a way that would not have occurred to Evans.

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