10 Fingers, One Voice

Billy TaylorBilly Taylor
Ten Fingers – One Voice
by Raymond Redmond

On Taylor’s newest album he goes it alone, tackling eight jazz standards and three originals with his trade-mark finesse.

“This recording is another jazz surprise – an exhilarating one. Liberated from all constraints so that he can be entirely himself, Billy plays with a joy of self-discovery on swingers that is infectious… In mobile space that is all his own, he swings with more ease, liveliness, and resilience than ever before. For this listener, the Billy Taylor that emerges here was a surprise – a daring risk-taker who has absorbed the entire jazz tradition but now breaks through as an immediately identifiable personal force…with this solo set, the springtime of Billy Taylor has begun.”

says Nat Hentoff in the album’s liner notes.

Taylor has synthesized the history of jazz piano into a style all his own. Combining the joyful elegance of swing-era pianists like Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson with¬† the bebop innovations of Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, Taylor gives us tracks such as “Easy Like,” with its infectious stride rhythms and lush harmonic invention, and “Early Bird,’ a headlong romp through a twisting bebop maze (which Taylor wrote for Parker and played with him at Birdland).

In one of the album’s highlights, he puts Cole Porter’s “Night and Day” through its paces, coming up with a seemingly endless variety of left-hand accents and shapely melodies. His version of “Tea for Two,” based on an Art Tatum interpretation that Taylor admires, is similarly free-wheeling.

At the age of 77, Taylor may be an old hand at the piano, but his youthful enthusiasm makes this one of the freshest and liveliest solo piano outings in recent memory..