American drummer Chad Taylor is known mostly as the brilliant rhythmic drive of Chicago Underground (in all its incarnations), Jaimie Branch’s Fly or Die, Jeff Parker Trio, James Brandon Lewis Quartet, Exploding Star Orchestra, Digital Primitives, Eric Revis Quartet, Marc Ribot Trio, Fred Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, and countless others. Taylor is also a bandleader and composer and The Reel is already the sophomore album of his trio with sax player Brian Settles and pianist Neil Podgurski (the three musicians met as students at The New School in New York in the mid-nineties), following The Daily Biological (Cuneiform, 2020). The album was recorded at Samurai Hotel Recording Studios in Astoria, New York, in June 2022, and features compositions from all three musicians, plus two beautiful renditions of two Andrew Hill tunes.
Like in all his collaborations, Taylor knows how to bring out the best in his fellow musicians, and The Reel is a perfect demonstration of his gifts as a bandleader, drummer, composer and improviser. The opening, Hill’s «Subterfuge» (originally released on Hill’s Black Fire, Blue Note, 1964, with Joe Henderson and Toy Haynes), cements Taylor Trio as continuing the great lineage of modern jazz, with commanding authority and, engaging rhythmic energy and tight, supportive interplay. Hill’s «Reconciliation» (originally released on Judgement!, Blue Note, 1964, with Richard Davis, Bobby Hutcherson and Elvin Jones) further explores Hill’s compositional strategies and feels like an entire quartet playing together.
The following pieces further show this trio swinging freely between ‘in’ and ‘out’ while developing the genre-less vibe of the album. Settles’ «Moon Tone Shift» shifts from a balladic mode and slowly builds its climatic power and stresses the free, open and close interplay of the trio. Taylor’s «Julian’s Groove» highlights his qualities as a master of uplifting pulses while his balladic title piece highlights his gifts as a melodicist composer.
Chad Taylor (dr), Brian Settles (s), Neil Podgurski (p)