Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

CD Review: Ed Taylor “It’s Complicated”

Tacoma jazz guitarist Ed Taylor is back with a new album, focusing primarily on original material but with a few choice cover tunes. Taylor wrote or co-wrote seven on the 11 songs on the album.

The title track starts things off with some tasteful guitar playing from Taylor and guest artist Paul Brown. Both display tasty licks and nice phrasing. One of them utilizes a bit of wah-wah.

Taylor sings on two tracks. The first one is a cover of “And I Love Her” by the Beatles. He sings a bit too softly on this song. In the beginning the guitar seems buried in the mix, but eventually pokes through.

The third track, “Air Jam,” shakes things up a bit. It was written by Taylor and Ed Bien, who also produced, arranged and programmed the keyboards. It has a funk influence and a strong saxophone solo from Jeff Kashiwa.

Taylor establishes a mellow, easygoing vibe on his original “Connections.” His playing is quite restrained.

Bien adds a nice touch to “Some Things Must Change” with his piano playing.

Taylor takes things in a modern, sophisticated direction on “I Double Dare You.” His phrasing is very clean and the keyboards offer a nice contrast to the sound of the guitar.

Taylor and Ed Klok share guitar duties on “For Her Eyes.” They go in a bit of a Latin jazz direction on this mellow tune.

Al Kooper was a member of the original lineup of Blood, Sweat & Tears, although his time in the band did not last long. He wrote “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,” which appeared on their debut album in 1968. Taylor covers this tune and it is a highlight of the album. Where his singing style did not quite fit the Beatles, here his vocals are warm and soulful, a good fit for the song. Kashiwa livens things up with his saxophone playing.

The album closes with a cover of “Mellow Mood.” This was written by Jimmy Smith and appears on an album he did with guitarist Wes Montgomery in 1966. Taylor offers some great phrasing as he plays Montgomery, one of the great jazz guitarists. About halfway through he plugs into a guitar synthesizer, a tool Montgomery obviously did not have access to. The key to recording a cover tune for an album is to do something unique with it, and Taylor certainly does with this one. Not only is this an interesting take on an old song, it shows Taylor is willing to be adventurous.

Ed Taylor plays Bad Albert’s in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood on May 26.