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Martin Taylor: Double Standards

Although he has played in a variety of configurations and styles, Scottish guitarist Martin Taylor, who early in his career worked for Stephane Grappelli, essentially is a Django Reinhardt disciple, and that orientation always comes back to the fore when he records by himself, as he does on Double Standards for the first time since 2002’s Solo. The album title is an indication of the musical approach, first because this is a set of evergreens and second because Taylor has taken the unusual step of making what he calls “a solo duet recording,” i.e., overdubbing a second acoustic guitar track onto each tune so that he is in effect playing duets with himself.

He observes in the liner notes that this meant he had to perform one pass while having in mind what he was going to play in the second, which would seem to challenge the fundamental jazz notion of spontaneous improvisation. But in practice what he has really done is record one track for purposes of rhythm and harmony, often consisting entirely of chords, while reserving the second for melodic variations. Needless to say, the two guitars complement each other well, whether on the quick tempo of “Bluesette” or in the expressive ballad mode of “Young and Foolish” and “Alfie.”

In either case, the ghost of Reinhardt is present frequently in the arpeggiated runs that serve as melodic embellishments and vary the rhythms on both sides of the stereo picture. On his many previous albums, Taylor has demonstrated that he plays well with others; here he shows that he is equally good at accompanying himself.

Originally Published