Mark Taylor
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Mark Taylor

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
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CMJ: reviewed by James Lien

Usually thought of more as a tux-'n'-tails classical instrument rather than an ax of choice for the jazz soloist, the French horn nonetheless continues to rise in the popularity sweepstakes among jazz fans, with a few brilliant players (Tom Varner springs to mind) leading the way. Mark Taylor's French horn has been heard performing with Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill, Abdullah Ibrahim and the Ebony Brass Quintet; yet Taylor also stakes his claim as a composer of note: several of these songs resonate like evergreen standards, even though every one of them is from the pen of the still-youthful Taylor. Supporting the French hornist is pianist Myra Melford (who played with Taylor on Henry Threadgill's lauded Make A Move album) and Fred Hopkins on bass (who's worked with Don Pullen). Percussionist Warren Smith and Steve Berrios on drums lends things a bit of extra fire and zest. This is a real winner.

February 2, 1998 - College Music Journal


CMJ: reviewed by James Lien

Usually thought of more as a tux-'n'-tails classical instrument rather than an ax of choice for the jazz soloist, the French horn nonetheless continues to rise in the popularity sweepstakes among jazz fans, with a few brilliant players (Tom Varner springs to mind) leading the way. Mark Taylor's French horn has been heard performing with Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill, Abdullah Ibrahim and the Ebony Brass Quintet; yet Taylor also stakes his claim as a composer of note: several of these songs resonate like evergreen standards, even though every one of them is from the pen of the still-youthful Taylor. Supporting the French hornist is pianist Myra Melford (who played with Taylor on Henry Threadgill's lauded Make A Move album) and Fred Hopkins on bass (who's worked with Don Pullen). Percussionist Warren Smith and Steve Berrios on drums lends things a bit of extra fire and zest. This is a real winner.

February 2, 1998 - College Music Journal


eJazzNews.com

Reviewed by John Stevenson

French hornist Mark Taylor is not just another French horn player. For one thing, few musicians have dared to take up the instrument, a much trickier customer than its cousins, trumpet and trombone. Derring-do naturally characterises Taylor's musicianship. The former Henry Threadgill sideman is more than equipped for the challenge with a robust tone and strong compositions. The minimalist, somewhat painterly "Broken" is particularly poignant. There is good all-round ensemble playing here with Don Pullen-esque stylings from pianist Myra Melford. - ejazznews.com


eJazzNews.com

Reviewed by John Stevenson

French hornist Mark Taylor is not just another French horn player. For one thing, few musicians have dared to take up the instrument, a much trickier customer than its cousins, trumpet and trombone. Derring-do naturally characterises Taylor's musicianship. The former Henry Threadgill sideman is more than equipped for the challenge with a robust tone and strong compositions. The minimalist, somewhat painterly "Broken" is particularly poignant. There is good all-round ensemble playing here with Don Pullen-esque stylings from pianist Myra Melford. - ejazznews.com


Cadence:

reviewed by Robert Iannapollo

The French horn tradition in Jazz is a slim one and a new voice hasn't emerged since Brother Ahh (Robert Northern) and Richard Dunbar were called upon to add color to groups in the 60s and 70s. Mark Taylor has been working in various ensembles recently including Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus and Muhal Richard Abrams' Big Band. He has released his first session as a leader, a small group date (Myra Melford,p; Fred Hopkins, b; Steve Berrios, d; Warren Smith, vb, perc; Karen Bourque-Simmons, vcl) entitled QuietLand (Mapleshade 05232).

Taylor's sound is big, rounded and versatile. He uses a variety of mutes and attacks when playing. He tends towards smooth flowing lines but they never quite go in the direction that the listener expects. They have an inner logic of their own. This is also true of Taylor's compositions. A good example of this is "Osmium Zamindar's Untimely Arrival", a tango with a line that goes all over the place underpinned by almost military style drumming from Berrios. "Kennebrew's Dance" sports a bizarre zig-zagging line that was inspired by his daughter's attempts at dance. Punctuating the compositions are a series of improvised solos, duos and trios. His duet with Melford ("Do You Dream Of These?") finds her working inside the piano, coaxing some unusual sounds to complement Taylor's muted burr. "Triologue" has three complementary lines (Taylor, Hopkins and Smith on vibes) darting in, around and through each other. This is a strong session with plenty to offer.

May, 1998 - Cadence Magazine


Cadence:

reviewed by Robert Iannapollo

The French horn tradition in Jazz is a slim one and a new voice hasn't emerged since Brother Ahh (Robert Northern) and Richard Dunbar were called upon to add color to groups in the 60s and 70s. Mark Taylor has been working in various ensembles recently including Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus and Muhal Richard Abrams' Big Band. He has released his first session as a leader, a small group date (Myra Melford,p; Fred Hopkins, b; Steve Berrios, d; Warren Smith, vb, perc; Karen Bourque-Simmons, vcl) entitled QuietLand (Mapleshade 05232).

Taylor's sound is big, rounded and versatile. He uses a variety of mutes and attacks when playing. He tends towards smooth flowing lines but they never quite go in the direction that the listener expects. They have an inner logic of their own. This is also true of Taylor's compositions. A good example of this is "Osmium Zamindar's Untimely Arrival", a tango with a line that goes all over the place underpinned by almost military style drumming from Berrios. "Kennebrew's Dance" sports a bizarre zig-zagging line that was inspired by his daughter's attempts at dance. Punctuating the compositions are a series of improvised solos, duos and trios. His duet with Melford ("Do You Dream Of These?") finds her working inside the piano, coaxing some unusual sounds to complement Taylor's muted burr. "Triologue" has three complementary lines (Taylor, Hopkins and Smith on vibes) darting in, around and through each other. This is a strong session with plenty to offer.

May, 1998 - Cadence Magazine


JazzReview.com Reviewed by: Don Williamson

Musicians: Mark Taylor (french horn); Myra Melford (piano); Brad Jones (bass); Matt Wilson (drums)

Despite its distinctive mellow tone--or perhaps because of it--the french horn has few practitioners in jazz. Those few like Julius Watkins or Vincent Chancey have become champions of the instrument as they have contributed to some of the more advanced recordings like those of Gil Evans, Lester Bowie or Henry Threadgill.

Mark Taylor has been as steadfast in his dedication to the instrument as well, to the extent that he has once again released a CD on which the french horn is the lead instrument. His quartet is one that expresses advanced concepts through their music as well, and Taylor’s compositions on Circle Squared serve as the springboard for exciting improvisations that are as thoroughly unpredictable as they are mesmerizing. Both Taylor and pianist Myra Melford have spent time with Threadgill’s groups, and their attitudes toward the music reflect the same sense of freedom within form. “Broken,” for example, proceeds with Taylor’s outlining of the time and chord structure through the repetitive development of quarter-note fifths until a tango by Melford breaks out. With controlled dynamism, Taylor then takes the lead through an ever-rising improvisational drama as the vocal quality of the french horn successfully sings out the melody over a wide range. On the other hand, “Oni” is shaped by Taylor’s and Melford’s intertwining contrapuntal lines over the unobtrusive push of bassist Brad Jones and drummer Matt Wilson. And yet the freedom remains within the meter as Melford splashes and Wilson crashes behind Taylor’s seemingly disconnected playing, descending to the bottom range of his instrument before assuming the original theme for a rousing conclusion. “Alexia’s Rescue” is at first quiet waltz that Taylor plays muted before the group develops the theme built upon beats of five and then seven. Melford is particularly effective in infusing the tune with excitement through the use of note clusters during her solo. “Circle Squared” starts out quietly as well, with just Melford’s spare notes in the upper register of the keyboard, as if in meditation, before she too outlines the tune with the barest of notes in 3/4. The subdued nature of the tune gives Taylor the opportunity to play in balladic form with glowing, evocative tones. And to provide even great variety to the 7 compositions included on Circle Squared, Taylor ends the CD with a light, slightly altered rhumba-like piece, “Helix.” Once again, the tune is built upon Melford’s repeated lines which govern its rhythm as well as its melody.

Not only is Taylor unconventional in his choice of instrument, but also he is unconventional in the intelligent and free nature of the music he plays on Circle Squared. Backed by like-minded musicians who are invigorated by the challenge of his music, Mark Taylor’s quartet certainly is unlike any other performing in today’s jazz scene. The combination of elaborately written compositions, imaginative professionals and the rarely heard voice of the french horn works supremely well.

Copyright© 2003 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved. - JazzReview.com


JazzReview.com Reviewed by: Don Williamson

Musicians: Mark Taylor (french horn); Myra Melford (piano); Brad Jones (bass); Matt Wilson (drums)

Despite its distinctive mellow tone--or perhaps because of it--the french horn has few practitioners in jazz. Those few like Julius Watkins or Vincent Chancey have become champions of the instrument as they have contributed to some of the more advanced recordings like those of Gil Evans, Lester Bowie or Henry Threadgill.

Mark Taylor has been as steadfast in his dedication to the instrument as well, to the extent that he has once again released a CD on which the french horn is the lead instrument. His quartet is one that expresses advanced concepts through their music as well, and Taylor’s compositions on Circle Squared serve as the springboard for exciting improvisations that are as thoroughly unpredictable as they are mesmerizing. Both Taylor and pianist Myra Melford have spent time with Threadgill’s groups, and their attitudes toward the music reflect the same sense of freedom within form. “Broken,” for example, proceeds with Taylor’s outlining of the time and chord structure through the repetitive development of quarter-note fifths until a tango by Melford breaks out. With controlled dynamism, Taylor then takes the lead through an ever-rising improvisational drama as the vocal quality of the french horn successfully sings out the melody over a wide range. On the other hand, “Oni” is shaped by Taylor’s and Melford’s intertwining contrapuntal lines over the unobtrusive push of bassist Brad Jones and drummer Matt Wilson. And yet the freedom remains within the meter as Melford splashes and Wilson crashes behind Taylor’s seemingly disconnected playing, descending to the bottom range of his instrument before assuming the original theme for a rousing conclusion. “Alexia’s Rescue” is at first quiet waltz that Taylor plays muted before the group develops the theme built upon beats of five and then seven. Melford is particularly effective in infusing the tune with excitement through the use of note clusters during her solo. “Circle Squared” starts out quietly as well, with just Melford’s spare notes in the upper register of the keyboard, as if in meditation, before she too outlines the tune with the barest of notes in 3/4. The subdued nature of the tune gives Taylor the opportunity to play in balladic form with glowing, evocative tones. And to provide even great variety to the 7 compositions included on Circle Squared, Taylor ends the CD with a light, slightly altered rhumba-like piece, “Helix.” Once again, the tune is built upon Melford’s repeated lines which govern its rhythm as well as its melody.

Not only is Taylor unconventional in his choice of instrument, but also he is unconventional in the intelligent and free nature of the music he plays on Circle Squared. Backed by like-minded musicians who are invigorated by the challenge of his music, Mark Taylor’s quartet certainly is unlike any other performing in today’s jazz scene. The combination of elaborately written compositions, imaginative professionals and the rarely heard voice of the french horn works supremely well.

Copyright© 2003 JazzReview.com®. All Rights Reserved. - JazzReview.com


Discography

Mark Taylor Quartet At What Age (2011)
Mark Taylor / Circle Squared Circle Squared (2003)
Mark Taylor Quintet QuietLand (1997)
Harris Eisenstadt Woodblock Prints (2010)
Positive Catastrophe Garabatos Volume One (2009)
Holly Cole Holly Cole (2008)
Jessica Jones Quartet Word (2008)
Jessica Jones Quartet Nod (2004)
Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble Pragmatic Optimism (2006)
Warren Smith Natural Cultural Forces (2008)
Warren Smith Race Cards (2004)
Rob Reddy Book of the Storm (2008)
Rob Reddy A Hundred Jumping Devils (2007)
Henry Threadgill Too Much Sugar for a Dime (1993)
Henry Threadgill Carry the Day (1994)
Henry Threadgill Makin' a Move (1995)
Ebony Brass Quintet Brand New Bag (1995)
Orange Then Blue While You Were Out (1992)
Muhal Richard Abrams Blu Blu Blu (1990)
Gunther Schuller Jumpin’ In The Future (1988)

Photos

Bio

Over the last 20+ years, Mark Taylor's work performing and recording with modern musical giants Max Roach, Henry Threadgill and Muhal Richard Abrams, among many others, established his reputation as a go-to French Hornist in the jazz and improvised music communities. SECRET IDENTITY, Mark's newest ensemble, now puts the focus squarely on Mark Taylor the composer. Putting aside the French Horn for the composer's pen, Mark has enlisted the aid of fellow musical travelers Darius Jones and Jonathan Finlayson on alto sax and trumpet, and the stellar rhythm section of Ken Filiano, bass and Michael "T.A." Thompson at the drums to explore his obsession with drama and narrative in contemporary improvised music. 

Taylor, a native of Chattanooga, TN, has been commissioned to compose for theatre, dance, and the concert stage. He has placed two songs in the Dollface Productions independent feature film "The Girl" and other film projects have included “9/11 Fear In Silence” for JadeFilms and Camille Billops' documentary, "A String of Pearls”. Other recent projects include transcriptions of the work of seminal jazz bandleader James Reese Europe’s “Hellfighters” military band for the Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble and a multi-movement orchestral work commissioned by Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation and premiered by the Tri-Centric Orchestra in New York City in the Fall of 2013. Mark has also released three CDs of all original material, QuietLand, Circle Squared and At What Age.

Band Members