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Dennis Taylor | Steppin' Up

Kizybosh (2011)
By JON GARELICK  |  February 23, 2011
3.0 3.0 Stars

The set-up is familiar and unpretentious: a saxophone-fronted organ trio playing blues 'n' roots. Saxophonist Taylor - who died in October 2010 -spent his life as a utility session man, road-warrior sideman (Gatemouth Brown, Buckwheat Zydeco, Shelby Lynne), and respected teacher, and here (working with Hammond B3 man Kevin McKendree) he pours all of his experience into a mix of originals and well-chosen covers. Although there's plenty of improvisation, this isn't a jazz record per se - burning through the changes isn't what it's about. It is about grooves and melody and tone and soul. So there's the straight-up earthy swing of the title-cut original, the classic New Orleans shuffle of Dave Bartholomew & Fats Domino's "Josephine," Dr. John's early psych-swamp vamp "I Walk on Gilded Splinters," the modal aggression of "Here's the Deal," and even some 'Tranish squalling on Isaac Hayes's "Café Regio's." Delbert McClinton offers a charmingly relaxed vocal on the jazz standard "Since I Fell for You," and the slow blues "Back at the Teddy Bear Lounge" (from Nashvillian Taylor's Boston days?) casts a wry eye on the kind of bump-and-grind work that was long the staple of many an organ-sax combo. But for the deepest turn of Taylor's artistry, listen to the way he caresses the melody of "Lady Day." To quote Ornette, beauty is a rare thing. 
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  Topics: CD Reviews , New Orleans, jazz, soul,  More more >
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