Dec 10, 2009

In his annual holiday jazz survey,Derrick Bang of the Davis Enterprise in Sacramento, California, writes:

“The Keith Taylor Trio’s “O Christmas Tree-O” (Startlingly Fresh
Records) is a seasonal joy from start to finish: a delectable example
of the sort of trio piano jazz I could listen to forever. Taylor is
joined on piano by Jim Cavender (bass) and Tom Branch (drums), and
tenor saxman Greg Chambers sits in for a few tracks.
The lengthy tracks allow plenty of improv work; this album gives
listeners a generous 70 minutes of truly tasty jazz.
Taylor demonstrates his inventive keyboard work with the album-opening
“The Second First Noel,” which also benefits from the first of
Cavender’s many slick bass solos. Taylor and Cavender trade licks on
several tracks; I’m particularly impressed by their work on the
mid-tempo handling of “Once in Royal David’s City.”
“O Christmas Tree” is an up-tempo finger-snapper, with a truly cookin’
bass solo from Cavender. An equally lively rendition of “We Three
Kings” proves that these heads of state really know how to groove on a
track that boasts numerous tempo changes.
But as much as I enjoy this trio’s faster selections, the slower pieces
truly shine. “Silent Night” and “I Wonder As I Wander” are soft and
mysterious: both lovely readings of these gentle carols. Chambers’ sax
work highlights an unexpectedly slow and sentimental reading of “Frosty
the Snowman,” a song usually given a lively up-tempo reading that
emerges here as a lament. (Which I guess makes sense; Frosty did melt,
after all!)
The album closes with another quiet one: “Some Children See Him,”
introduced with Taylor’s gentle keyboard work, which guides this lovely
standard — and the entire album — to a perfect conclusion.
Great job, guys.”