Review of NOCTURNAL from Jazz Music Archives

This is Chris Taylor’s first album, but he is hardly new to the music business. Apparently Chris has been performing, writing and recording for over 30 years and finally waited till now to release an album as a leader. All that experience has certainly paid off for Taylor, for a first time out this record is surprisingly confident, mature and well composed. The production is also perfectly balanced and great at bringing out every little ambient detail.

The spirit of this music is similar to some classic 70s fusion bands, particularly Weather Report, but this is hardly an anachronistic or dated album. Fortunately Taylor also adds a lot of modern elements such as digital electronic ambience, occasional drumnbass rhythms, sampled exotic voices and a nu jazz type somberness on some cuts. To his credit though, Taylor does not use these modern elements in any kind of gratuitous or trendy fashion, instead, this album achieves a perfect blend of old and new in jazz that transcends stubborn adherence to genre.

Throughout this album Chris displays a sensitivity that can be rare in jazz. Although there are plenty of high speed nimble solos from Taylor and his crew, the music never becomes oppressive in that way that ‘paid-by-the-note’ jazz fusion can become. Likewise the use of sampled voices is handled nicely, particularly on the title track ‘Nocturnal’ on which Taylor’s mournful guitar, that imitates a pedal steel, is mixed with samples of an Indian singer for an exotic blend of country-western and Indian pop.

This album is kind of under stated and subtle and may not make a strong impression at first, but its subtlety is its strength. This is just a finely crafted and sensitive modern fusion album that avoids the excesses of the 70s and uses modern elements without sounding contrived or trendy.