Pianist and composer Chris Taylor hails from Wichita, but now lives in Boston. Among the artists he’s worked with include Philly Joe Jones, Bobby Durham, Christian McBride, Charles Fambrough, John Swanna and Norah Jones. Flutist Marc Adler has received jazz fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council. Today, he lives in Philadelphia. Taylor and Adler were both living in Philadelphia in the 1980s, and that is where their musical association developed. On this recording, the two pair up with two other Boston-based musicians; bassist Barry Smith and drummer Bob Savine. Together, the quartet play three Taylor and three Adler originals, as well as covers of Coltrane’s "Naima" and the standard "Girl Of My Dreams."
To say these musicians have talent is an understatement. Playing this set of eight straight-ahead jazz compositions Adler particularly shines on "Twenty Bars." His ability to quickly traverse the flute’s range with agility, lightening quick articulations and a warm and full-bodied tone is remarkable. His lines jump and dance in perfect consort with his rhythm section accompaniment. Obviously, a Hubert Laws inspired flutist, Adler’s formidable abilities shine through cleanly.
Taylor’s piano playing is solidly based in the jazz blues style. His use of extended harmonic structures and substitute chord options is always a result of logically informed choices based upon where the music is going at any particular time. Of note is Taylor’s bluesy playing behind Adler on "Lookin’ Fine." Setting up a shuffle-ish pattern at the top of the track, Taylor eventually devolves the blues style into a particularly sparse and open framework which allows Adler to rip out brilliantly flashy line after flashy line after flashy line. Then, during Taylor’s solo, the pianist takes a minimalistic approach majestically placing the rhythm of his solo lines between the excited double-time figures of Adler and the long-tone mournful soloing style of bassist Smith, who has the subsequent solo.
As a tandem both Smith and Savine are perfectly suited for each other. They work as closely as a unit as possible and seem to understand each other’s style intuitively; it’s obvious they’ve worked together before. As a disc the playing is informed, coherent and, at times, very exciting. A few of the tracks tend towards the more ordinary. "Marlene," for example, seems to lack a little kick and "What Fine Muffins" is a little vacant. More intimate work among and with all involved can only lead to even better recordings in the future, and that’s something to look forward to.