WarmingUp!: The BILLY TAYLOR Trio
Billy Taylor (p) Henry Grimes (b) Ray Mosca (drs)
NYC; March 26, 1960
Warming Up (2:29)
Easy Like (2:31)
That’s Where It Is (2:43)
Easy Walker (2:43)
Lonesome Lover (2:27)
Don’t Bug Me (2:34)
Coffee Break (3:02)
Ya Know What I Mean (2:33)
Native Dancer (2:33)
Uncle Fuzzy (2:32)
No Aftertaste (3:01)
(all compositions by T. Taylor)
This album offers a dozen brand-new examples of the always tasteful and always swinging piano talents of BILLY TAYLOR, demonstrating once again the often-neglected truth that “maturity” and “smoothness” are not negative words in jazz. Very much to the contrary, in the hands of a driving, witty, thoughtful and almost endlessly varied master craftsman like Billy Taylor, such qualities are guarantees of valid and highly enjoyable music.
And, as the album title is intended to emphasize (and as the title tune and such others as Easy Like and Coffee Break in particular demonstrate), there is also a very substantial degree of warmth and emotion mixed in with all that maturity and craftsmanship – all of which easily adds up to enough reasons to explain Taylor’s widespread and long-lasting popularity.
Casually mentioned in the opening paragraph above is the quite unusual fact that there are no less than twelve selections included here. Very few jazz albums contain that many numbers, and his is actually the first time there have been that many on any Riverside jazz LP. The story behind this particular departure from the usual state of affairs offers some interesting insights into the musical mind of Mr. Taylor (which, as many people will tell you, is one of the very best and most clear-thinking minds on the jazz scene).
The story is not that anyone here edged up to Billy and whispered: “Hey, let’s get real commercial and do an album did not originate here. It was conceived as a project for one of the largest radio-transcription firms (SESAC), which automatically meant that all sections had to meet the timing requirements of the widest possible air play (in other words: “not too long between the commercials, please”). The usual approach in such cases is to take conventional material and play as few choruses as possible. But this is a pretty frustrating way to play jazz. So instead, Billy, who was also thinking ahead to the possible simultaneous use of these performances (if properly handled) on a ‘normal’ jazz record, chose to regard this assignment as a special challenge.
He saw it as an opportunity to fashion performances that would be valid and self-sufficient jazz entities within this arbitrary three-minutes-or-less time limit, by starting out with works written with this problem in mind, rather than by trying to foreshorten standard-length numbers (In the days of the 78 rpm record, of course, innumerable great jazz performances were created within a time span necessarily less than three minutes. But in the dozen years of the long-playing record, jazz has just about completely lost the habit of being terse and concise. Besides, even those earlier discs used the standard just-a-couple-of-choruses approach and conventionally constructed tunes.) Taking as his base a dozen compositions written for the purpose by his wife, Taylor has built an album that is quite literally ‘something else.’
“Of course,” Billy points out, “this is not the way the trio plays these numbers in a club, or the way they’d be played on another kind of record date.” But the basic fact is that these are fully effective ways of playing these particular tunes – not just samples or fragments of them.
But freshness and intelligence are nothing more than what Taylor’s large group of fans have come to expect – and consistently receive – from him. Since Billy first branched out as leader o his own trio in 1952, he has been a regular and favorite performer in the top “piano rooms” of the country. Simultaneously, he has built a unique reputation as an articulate spokesman for jazz, through his writing and lecturing, through frequent TV appearances, and most recently with an excellent weekly disc jockey how over a New York station. His first two albums for Riverside have further demonstrated his versatility and imagination, one being a rich-sounding venture into unusual instrumentation –
BILLY TAYLOR with Four Flutes; featuring Frank Wess, Herbie Mann, Jerome Richardson (RLP 12-306; also Stereo RLP 1151)
and the second being an exceptionally swinging on-the-job recording by the same trio as is heard here –
BILLY TAYLOR Uptown – recorded at The Prelude (RLP 12-319; also Stereo RLP 1168)
Other outstanding recent Riverside LPs include –
THELONIOUS MONK at The Blackhawk (RLP 12-323; also Stereo RLP 1171)
Them Dirty Blues: CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet (RLP 12-322; also Stereo RLP 1170)
The CANNONBALL ADDERLEY Quintet in San Francisco (RLP 12-311; also Stereo RLP 1157)
Portrait in Jazz: BILL EVANS Trio (RLP 12-315; also Stereo RLP 1162)
This Here Is BOBBY TIMMONS (RLP 12-317; also Stereo RLP 1164)
Work Song: NAT ADDERLEY, with Wes Montgomery (RLP 12-318; also Stereo RLP 1167)
The Incredible Jazz Guitar of WES MONTGOMERY (RLP 12-320; also Stereo RLP 1169)
The Big Soul-Band: JOHNNY GRIFFIN Orchestra (RLP 331; also Stereo RLP 1179)
Really Big!: JIMMY HEATH Orchestra (RLP 333; Stereo RLP 1188)
The Three Faces of YUSEF LATEEF (RLP 325; also Stereo RLP 1176)
Love Locked Out: songs by BEV KELLY (RLP 328; also Stereo RLP 1182)
(The present recording is also available in Stereophonic form on RLP 1195)
Notes by ORRIN KEEPNEWS
Cover designed by KEN DEARDOFF
Photographs by LAWRENCE N.SHUSTAK
Mastered by JACK MATTHEWS (Components corp.) on a HYDROFEED lathe.
RIVERSIDE RECORDS are produced by BILL GRAUER PRODUCTIONS, Inc.
235 West 46th Street New York 36, N.Y.