Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor ‘Music with the Big Beat’ / ‘Blue Mist’ CD (Jasmine) 4/5

More of an R&B saxophone player who dipped into the blues and very occasionally into jazz, Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor was very much a tenor saxophone player who grew up in the swing era, which most influenced his style of playing and in this respect is on a par with Willis ‘Gaitor Tail’ Jackson. He was a disciple of the honking R&B hooters ‘n’ tooters and these two albums, both dating from 1955, capture his music within the New York R&B scene with bonus cuts featuring the tenorist alongside leader Claude Cloud and the Thunderclaps. Taylor singed to MGM in 1954 and was propelled to solo success by the then head of the R&B division, Leroy Kirkland. The first LP, ‘The big beat’, was recorded when 10″ albums still ruled the roots, but it rapidly re-surfaced in the new 12″ format. An obvious number that typified the sound is, ‘Cloudburst’, which Lambert, Hendricks and Ross turned into a hit vocalese version. The easy-paced sound did not initially result in hit recordings, but by 1961 the public mood for instrumentals had markedly shifted and, ‘Blue mist’, in particular was re-issued to become a healthy seller over time. While never the most radical of tenor saxophonists. Stan ‘the man’ Taylor deserves his place in music history as one of the early and most influential of instrumentalists of rock ‘n’ roll, and as such he is of interest primarily to fans of the blues rather than strictly jazz saxophone devotees. This value for money pairing of early albums can be unhesitatingly recommended to fans of genuine R&B music.

Tim Stenhouse