JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET – Picking Up Where We Left Off (Real Self)

I have been a fan of The James Taylor Quartet for many, many years, right from his ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘The Money Spyder’ albums. I even stuck with him through his acid jazz phase, even though I much preferred his Hammond organ instrumentals, and so this album – coming over fifteen years after the last one of his that I own – is a very, very welcome return to form. As the title indicates, he has gone back to doing what he does best, with a collection of self-penned instrumentals featuring his trusty Hammond. The soulful groove of the title track effortlessly blends into the funky ‘Boot Up’ which leads on to the cool jazz of ‘Easy Time’. ‘Mr Z’ is Taylor at his grooviest, before he pulls it all back for the gentle soulfullness of ‘Never In My Wildest Dreams’. ‘Dead Leg’ is riffing jazz and ‘French Quarter Strut’ is just that – a loping jazz groove. ‘Mincemeat’ and ‘SpecialPlusExtra’ round off this immensely enjoyable disc with some funky organ breaks, and never has an album title been so apt. No-one – and I really do mean absolutely no-one – is making music like this any more, and so for fans of the Hammond who miss the likes of Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff then James Taylor can provide the fix that you so desperately want. So well did this album go that he has already released a follow-up in the guise of ‘Don’t Mess With Mr. T’, and I plan to do just that at the earliest opportunity.