Martin Taylor

Norwich Puppet Theatre

Norwich Puppet Theatre

A while ago, there was a craze for something called Smooth Jazz.

It was the kind of thing you listened to in the bath, which made no strain on your imagination and it embraced both breathy Norah Jones and the assured guitar chords of Martin Taylor. This made me think that Taylor (MBE) was not much by way of a heavyweight.

Not so. Although the material seemed easy, his interpretation was far from facile. He opened with Billy Taylor's I Wanna Know What It Feels Like To Be Free (the Barry Norman theme tune) and it was clear that the guitar was some kind of extension to his arm.

The playing was so effortless that it flowed out like liquid. Nuage, the Django Reinhardt classic came next, given an electric fruitiness which lent it a new, lyrical quality and this went swiftly into a little West Indian number which was light and jokey and full of calypso touches.

I missed the heart-wrenching sorrow in his reworking of Piaf's Hymne a l' Amour but Who Could Ask For Anything More was a gem: his feet tapping, his fingers curling, he was a one-man orchestra.

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Part two skidded through Jesse Harris via Norah Jones and Gershwin and then saw the artist playing his own numbers.

My favourite here was a collection of African cross rhythms he'd collected. Virtuoso, frantic fingering from a man who barely frets.

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