Jamie Taylor – 5 Desert Island Picks – Jazz Guitar Life

Regardless if you’re a beginning student of Jazz Guitar or an established player, we all have at least five albums that we cannot be without! With that said, Jazz Guitar Life has asked UK based Jazz Guitarist Jamie Taylor what his five would be (assuming that he knew before hand that he was going to be stuck on a desert island and that said island had electricity and a full component stereo system) 🙂


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Peter Leitch – From Another Perspective (Concord, 1993): One of the first really formative experiences I had as a youngster was to attend a residential jazz guitar summer school that was held in the North of England back in 1995, I think. The two visiting US luminaries on the course were Jim Hall and Peter Leitch. Jim gave a fantastic masterclass at the end of the week, but Peter was around for the whole thing and we all got to work with him in fairly small groups etc. He was incredibly inspiring to me then, and he still is.

I think guys like Peter, Bruce Forman, and Doug Raney were real ‘keepers of the flame’ for bebop guitar through the 80s and 90s, when the focus tended to be more on players like Metheny and Scofield (whom I also love). Peter played beautiful unaccompanied guitar as well, and always sounded like he was really improvising when he did that. I know ill-health has sadly forced him to retire from playing now, but he’s turned his attention to composing instead, so that’s another inspiring example.


Tony Bennett Sings Ellington Hot & Cool (Columbia, 1999): I first heard this back in 1999 when my flatmate at the time brought a copy back from the record shop. I fell in love with it right away; the beautiful Ellington songs, gorgeous orchestral arrangements by Ralph Burns and Jorge Calandrelli, and a great featured guitarist called Gray Sargent. He played these short, tasteful solos that became part of the songs for me, and it was a masterclass in accompanying a vocalist too. Later I checked out some of Gray’s own work, which is fantastic, but not that easy to find. His “Shades of Gray” on Concord is well worth tracking down, for those who enjoy rare record hunting! One of those players I can identify after a single phrase.

I also love the way Tony Bennett interpreted songs in the later part of his career. Here, he changes “I Got It Bad” to “She’s Got It Bad” and sings it as the concerned father; it’s such a lovely touch.


James Chirillo – Sultry Serenade (Nagel Heyer, 2000): A truly amazing record – this one’s a bit like one of those movies that suddenly changes direction on you, just when you think you know what’s happening. It opens with a very nice straight-ahead reading of “When Lights Are Low” but, if you stopped it there, I don’t think you’d ever guess what was coming next. Seventy minutes later, you’ve heard a fully-notated (I assume) duet for Electric Guitar and Trumpet by the great John Carisi, an adaptation of a piece by the classical composer Alexander Zemlinksi, a vocal feature in Portuguese, and Bourbon Street Parade rendered with an irresistible New Orleans street-beat.

The really remarkable thing, though, is that all this somehow manages to sound like a consistent whole. I put it down in part to James’ wider skills as a composer/arranger but, mainly, it’s his excellent and distinctive guitar playing that holds everything together. He’s one of the very best on the planet at the four-to-the-bar rhythm thing as well; a subtle art that really must be kept alive!


Phil Robson – The Cut-Off Point (Whirlwind, 2015): Phil is a fellow Brit, and someone else who has been a great inspiration to me throughout my career. He’s also spent a lot of time in NYC and, in fact, there’s a connection with one of my earlier choices, as he played on Peter Leitch’s recent big band record. I know he shares my enthusiasm for Exit/Consciousness-era Pat Martino, and you can certainly hear that (amongst many other things) on this superb organ trio session from 2015.

There are many amazing aspects to Phil’s music, not least his compositional output, but I would highlight especially his tone and articulation here. Everything he plays is so rhythmically punctuated and connected to the time, even when it’s blazing fast. This is also a beautifully recorded album as well; there’s lovely, subtle detail in the drums, whilst the Hammond organ surrounds and lifts you like a thermal air current.


Enrico Rava – Edizione Speciale (ECM, 2021):
My favourite instrument other than the guitar is the trumpet, so I’d definitely need access to that on my desert island. The excellent Italian trumpet and flugelhorn player Enrico Rava has had a long association with the ECM label, having first recorded for them in 1975. John Abercrombie was on that record (The Pilgrim And The Stars) and it’s another great favourite of mine, as is his latest one; a flugel/piano duo with Fred Hersch (The Song Is You). Nevertheless, I’ve gone for this 2021 live album in order to highlight the fantastic young Italian band he’s been working with in recent years.

The guitarist in this group, Francesco Diodati, has a really interesting approach. He plays a Fender Jaguar through some very imaginatively deployed effects pedals; far removed from a traditional jazz set-up. You can hear elements of alternative rock and free improvisation in what he’s doing, but he can clearly play a jazz standard inside out as well. The emergence of players who blend elements from a wide range of sources is a very exciting aspect of modern music for me.


Please consider spreading the word about Jamie and Jazz Guitar Life by sharing this interview amongst your social media pals and please feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to support all the work I do on Jazz Guitar Life, please consider buying me a coffee or visiting the Jazz Guitar Life sponsors. Thank you and your patronage is greatly appreciated regardless if you buy me a coffee or not 🙂

About Lyle Robinson 330 Articles
Lyle Robinson is the owner/creator/publisher and editor of Jazz Guitar Life, an online magazine dedicated to the Jazz Guitar and its community of fine players worldwide.

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