Melvin Taylor,
Beyond the Burning Guitar
(independent, 2012)

Here is the opening sentence of the liner notes for Melvin Taylor's self-released CD:

Melvin Taylor is one of the greatest guitarists in the history of jazz, blues and rock.

The notes also describe him as a virtuoso, an amazing recording artist and an absolutely stunning live performer who plays breathtaking solos.

Since the notes are unsigned, we have to assume that Taylor wrote them himself or, if he didn't, since this is a self-release, he signed off on them. Now, I have nothing against a healthy ego, but when a musician makes these kinds of claims for himself, he'd better be able to back it up. They raise the expectations, set a high bar.

Taylor fails to vault over the bar. Mostly the CD features light jazz in the Wes Montgomery-George Benson mode -- in fact, one of the songs is called "Tribute to Wes." Beyond the Burning Guitar is not a very adventurous disc and, listening to it, I'm reminded that one of the adjectives Taylor did not use to describe his playing was original. I feel as though I've heard it all before. He has fast hands; his approach to the blues, as demonstrated on "Talking to Anna Mae," is to play runs of cascading 16th notes, a technique that comes to dominate the record and one that comes from the playing of Wes Montgomery.

Taylor would have been better off with a more modest set of liner notes and a one sheet that did not portray him as the next king of the guitar. That would have allowed reviewers to listen to the CD with a more realistic set of expectations; instead, he chose to set himself up for disappointment and I, for one, was disappointed.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

25 August 2012

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