Melvin Taylor
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Melvin Taylor

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"One of the Most Exhilarating Blues Guitarist"

One of the most exhilarating blues guitarists to emerge in the past decade...[he}
is more a blues innovator than a purist, mixing jazz chords and rock influences
into his tapestry of electric blues.


__Rolling Stone Magazine

- Rolling Stone Magazine


"A Blues Guitarist Takes Off"

Greenwich House, where the young Chicago-based blues guitarist Melvin Taylor performed to a full house on Saturday night at a concert produced by Jazztrack, takes some work to be transformed into a roadhouse. Mr. Taylor did it in a few minutes at most; standing still most of the time and looking a bit like an off-duty accountant, he turned the audience into a shouting crowd who'd cheer his every solo and give him a standing ovation when he deserved it.

And he deserved it: a volcanic guitarist, his every solo was an explosion of high-speed playing interrupted by bent, wailing and painful notes. Mixing the grind and distortion of the guitarist Son Seals with the wild, scattered exuberance of the guitarist Buddy Guy, Mr. Taylor attacked notes from all directions, from above to make one seem crestfallen or from below to make one take off. Long flurries segued quickly into metallic slipping and sliding until he'd abruptly stop. And Mr. Taylor knows his music as well; jazz ideas would mingle with urban blues. He'd push the harmony into places it didn't naturally want to go, and he'd effortlessly add chord substitutions to the blues.

The audience loved it all. Backed by a five-piece band - including the jazz musicans Dewey Redman and Byard Lancaster on saxophones and Stanton Davis on trumpet - Mr. Taylor would sing a few choruses in a dusky, hoarse voice, then let rip with his guitar. The horn section, filling out the sound, would shout back. But the night was won by Mr. Taylor and his virtuosity, the sort of virtuosity that drags an audience into a world of risks and chance and excitement.

By PETER WATROUS

- New York Times


"Taylor's Arsenal Consists of Blinding Speed"

Taylor's arsenal consists of blinding speed, a feverish wah-wah pedal, a range
of tones that leaps from groans to squeals, and notes bent so dramatically that
his guitar sounds like it's retching. Taylor succeeds because he's a virtuoso who
pushes the limits of his own skills.
__Living Blues Magazine

- Living Blues Magazine


"Taylor Throws Off Incredibly Intricate runs"

Taylor throws off incredibly intricate runs and wrings impossible textures and
tones out his of hollow-body with a casualness that belies his virtuosity.

__Knight Ridder Papers
- Knight Ridder Papers


"Taylor's Weapons Are His Dizzying Speed"

Taylor's weapons are his dizzying speed, his sweeping runs, his wildman abandon
and his trusty wah-wah pedal. He stuns with both.

__Jazz Times
- Jazz Times


Discography

1982 Blues On The Run
1984 Plays The Blues For You
1995 Melvin Taylor And The Slack Band
1997 Dirty Pool
2000 Bang That Bell
2002 Rendezvous With The Blues

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Melvin Taylor is a star in Europe, but it may take some time for U.S. audiences to catch
on to just how phenomenally talented a bluesman he is. Part of the problem for Taylor
may be his own natural eclecticism. He's equally adept playing jazz or blues, but in the
last few years, he's forged a name for himself as a blues guitarist with a slew of releases
for Evidence Music. Taylor may well be the most talented new guitarist to come along
since Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Taylor was born in Mississippi but raised in Chicago after the family moved there in
1962. He learned guitar from his mother's brother, Uncle Floyd Vaughan, who jammed to
tunes by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and Howlin' Wolf with his buddies. By the time
Taylor was 12, he was sitting in with his uncle and other grown-ups at those sessions.
Almost entirely self-taught, the young Taylor learned slide playing, finger-picking and
flat-picking styles from his favorite recordings by B.B. King, Albert King and Jimi Hendrix.

In his teens, Taylor joined the Transistors, a group managed by his future father-in-law,
and they made their mark playing popular music of the 1970s at talent shows and night
clubs. After the Transistors broke up in the early 1980s, Taylor again devoted his full
attention to playing blues in the Windy City's West Side clubs. Shortly after, pianist Joe
Willie "Pinetop" Perkins came looking for a guitarist for a string of European dates.
Taylor joined the Legendary Blues Band for a year and made such an impact in Europe
that several club and festival bookers wanted him back with his own group. Since the
late 1980s, he's been making regular tours of Europe, often backed by former members
of the Transistors, where they opened for the likes of B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Santana,
George Benson and Canned Heat.

Aside from taking his musical inspiration from guitar heroes like Albert King, B.B. King
and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Taylor also became enamored with the jazz stylings of George
Benson and Wes Montgomery, incorporating their styles into his playing.

Taylor's recordings include two he first recorded for a French label that have seen been
reissued on the Pennsylvania-based Evidence Music: “Blues on the Run”, originally
recorded in 1982, and 1984's “Melvin Taylor Plays the Blues for You”. Back in the U.S.,
Taylor continued to build a buzz around the strength of his marathon live shows at
Rosa's Lounge and other venues in Chicago. Several small labels tried to sign Taylor,
but they weren't successful. In 1995, Taylor was signed to Evidence Music and entered
the studio with blues impresario John Snyder to record his debut for the label, “Melvin
Taylor and the Slack Band”, which showcased his original songwriting. He returned in
late 1996 to record his second U.S. album, “Dirty Pool”. Taylor's debut remains the
Evidence label's best-selling release ever. Both records showcase Taylor's awe-
inspiring guitar playing and original renderings of classic Chicago blues tunes. “Bang
the Bell” followed in 2000, featuring racy cover art and a somewhat funk-influenced
sound, but it was his teaming with Lucky Peterson and Mato Nanji on 2002's
“Rendezvous with the Blues” that cemented his reputation as a mainstay in the American
blues and roots rock scene. Richard Skelly - All Music Guide