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Out-of-print for almost a decade, I was reminded during a recent listening session why I had to get QuietLand re-pressed. Mark’s super-soulful solos during our Ebony Brass date prompted this, our first jazz French horn session. He assembled an inspired quintet: acclaimed pianist Myra Melford; historic NY bassist Fred Hopkins, Warren Smith's masterful percussion; and Steve Berrios’ passionate drumming. Mark’s striking originals are built on beautiful harmonic textures that leave lots of room for these great players to make each song their own. The sweet airiness of Warren’s silvery triangles and vibes, framed by the soaring soprano purity of the background vocalise are audiophile treats. Cadence summed it up perfectly: “Taylor’s sound is big, rounded and versatile...smooth flowing lines but they never quite go in the direction that the listener expects...This is a strong session with plenty to offer.” (#05232)




1. Lullabye
2. Triologue
3. Osmium Zamindar's Untimtely Arrival
4. Kennebrew's Dance - Listen to Full Song
5. Improvisation #2 (Can I Tell You?)
6. Black Crow - Listen to Sample
7. Sleep Now...I Will Watch
8. Quondam (That Which Was)
9. Timefield
10. Do You Dream...Of These
11. QuietLand - Listen to Sample

Mapleshade Jazz

Mark Taylor, French horn/pennywhistle
Myra Melford, piano
Fred Hopkins, bass
Warren Smith, marimba/vibes/percussion
Steve Berrios*, drums
Steve Williams, drums
Karen Bourque-Simmons, vocals


reviewed by Robert Iannapollo

The French horn tradition in Jazz is a slim one and a new voice hasn't emerged since Brother Ahh (Robert Northern) and Richard Dunbar were called upon to add color to groups in the 60s and 70s. Mark Taylor has been working in various ensembles recently including Henry Threadgill's Very Very Circus and Muhal Richard Abrams' Big Band. He has released his first session as a leader, a small group date (Myra Melford,p; Fred Hopkins, b; Steve Berrios, d; Warren Smith, vb, perc; Karen Bourque-Simmons, vcl) entitled Quiet Land (Mapleshade 05232).

Taylor's sound is big, rounded and versatile. He uses a variety of mutes and attacks when playing. He tends towards smooth flowing lines but they never quite go in the direction that the listener expects. They have an inner logic of their own. This is also true of Taylor's compositions. A good example of this is "Osmium Zamindar's Untimely Arrival", a tango with a line that goes all over the place underpinned by almost military style drumming from Berrios. "Kennebrew's Dance" sports a bizarre zig-zagging line that was inspired by his daughter's attempts at dance. Punctuating the compositions are a series of improvised solos, duos and trios. His duet with Melford ("Do You Dream Of These?") finds her working inside the piano, coaxing some unusual sounds to complement Taylor's muted burr. "Triologue" has three complementary lines (Taylor, Hopkins and Smith on vibes) darting in, around and through each other. This is a strong session with plenty to offer.

May, 1998

reviewed by James Lien

Usually thought of more as a tux-'n'-tails classical instrument rather than an ax of choice for the jazz soloist, the French horn nonetheless continues to rise in the popularity sweepstakes among jazz fans, with a few brilliant players (Tom Varner springs to mind) leading the way. Mark Taylor's French horn has been heard performing with Lester Bowie, Henry Threadgill, Abdullah Ibrahim and the Ebony Brass Quintet; yet Taylor also stakes his claim as a composer of note: several of these songs resonate like evergreen standards, even though every one of them is from the pen of the still-youthful Taylor. Supporting the French hornist is pianist Myra Melford (who played with Taylor on Henry Threadgill's lauded Make A Move album) and Fred Hopkins on bass (who's worked with Don Pullen). Percussionist Warren Smith and Steve Berrios on drums lends things a bit of extra fire and zest. This is a real winner.

February 2, 1998