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Review: Edinburgh Jazz Festival

Martin Taylor:

Great Guitars

Queen's Hall

Rob Adams

As the junior partner in a franchise in which his colleagues who created the business model are either no longer with us or of an age when touring the world doesn't seem so attractive any more, Martin Taylor can fairly be said to have inherited the trading name Great Guitars.

If the players either side of him here don't have the jazz histories of predecessors such as Barney Kessel, Charlie Byrd, Herb Ellis and Tal Farlow, then they still merit the description "great guitarists" on the strength of, in the case of Ulf Wakenius, all-round playing ability and quick-thinking invention, and the sheer character that Christian Escoudé added to the music.

Of Romani descent, Escoudé boasts a close connection to Django Reinhardt, and while his playing isn't quite as bright and incisive at it once was, his imagination and bebop-influenced phrasing are valuable assets.

In a concert where individual prowess was largely employed in a group context on pieces such as Taylor's zippy Last Train to Hauteville and the Reinhardt classic Swing 42, Escoudé added wit and left-field creativity. His solo feature of La Vie en Rose somehow combined the soul of Piaf's hit with suggestions of the Marcels' doo-wop arrangement of Blue Moon and bluesman Skip James' I'm So Glad to great effect.

Intricate fingering is a given with Wakenius and Taylor, and both can make it appear effortless, but one of the other absolute stand-outs was when the trio took the Benny Goodman flag-waver Jersey Bounce at a "with the handbrake on" tempo and made both the melody and their individual extemporisations sing the blues: great guitars indeed.

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