Tuesday November 27, 2012
EVEN if he hasnít lived the authentic life of a gypsy, the music of these nomads is very much a part of Martin Taylorís heart. The British guitarist, who has an MBE (for services to jazz music) to his name, was bitten by the music bug at a young age, receiving his first guitar from his bass-playing father when he was four years old.
Once he was smitten by the music of gypsy genius Django Reindhart, there was no turning back for Taylor. He quit school at 15 and turned pro after that, getting his first coveted gig on a cruise ship, playing with the Count Basie Orchestra. His performances in and around London allowed him to meet jazz guitarist Ike Isaacs.
It was Isaacs who contributed to Taylorís development of his fingerstyle guitar playing, but it wasnít just improvement that the older musician offered Ė Isaacs also hooked Taylor up with violinist Stephane Grappelli, Reind-hartís foil in Quintette du Hot Club de France. Thus began Taylorís blossoming into a guitarist of great repute.
During his tours of North America, Taylor was fortunate to meet the likes of Nashville and country guitar legend Chet Atkins and David Grisman, both of whom he recorded albums with. If the 1970s were great for him, the following decade would prove to be his toughest time indeed.
Dwindling fortunes stemming from Grappelliís ill health and lack of touring left Taylor disillusioned, and at his lowest ebb, the guitarist even contemplated selling the guitar Isaacs had given him. On the way to make the sale, Taylor stopped his car and played the guitar, only to have that final playing session reignite his interest in, and passion for, music.
Re-energised, he decided to go it alone as a solo act, and thatís been the story of Taylorís life ever since. The BBC lifetime achievement award recipient Ė whoís also recorded with Jeff Beck, Tommy Emmanuel and Bill Wyman Ė brings his revered fingerstyle guitar to Malaysia for not one but two concerts this weekend.
On Nov 30, Taylor plays at Tunku Abdul Rahman Auditorium, Malaysian Tourism Centre (MaTiC), Kuala Lumpur, at 8pm. His second performance will be at the Penang Island Jazz Festival on Dec 2. For more info, visit penangjazz.com. For ticket bookings for both shows, visit ticketpro.com.my.