Nigel Taylor Presents Ambitious Improvising Trio Project
By Paul Serralheiro
A newly arrived talent in Montreal in the person of trumpeter Nigel Taylor is presenting the CD launch of an ambitious trio project with veteran improvising guitarist Joe Morris, entitled 'Part and Parcel' and released on Bug Incision Records. The event, presented by the label and l'Envers takes place this Saturday Nov. 23 at l'Oeuf (5334 de Gaspé). Doors open at 9, music starts at 9:30. The trio will play 2 sets following guest duo Land of Marigold (Josh Zubot, violin and Ellwood Epps, trumpet) on their final stop on coast-to-coast Canadian tour.
I asked Taylor about the project that features Morris, Taylor and saxophonist Fausto Sierakowski, but began with a question about why he left a career as a professional orchestral trumpeter to plunge into the improvising adventure.
What led you to pursue free jazz/improvised music?
I was musically brought up as a classical player and had worked for several years for the Regina Symphony Orchestra in Saskatchewan before I switched my focus to improvised music. While working for the orchestra I had begun to play with a lot of groups of different genres (that often required improvising) on the side. I eventually came to lead my own group that covered a lot of music from New York players that I liked, people like Chris Speed, Cuong Vu, Dave Douglas, as well as my own tunes and those of the rest of the group… all of which were platforms for improvising. I found that the feeling of playing and working on that music was profoundly satisfying compared to an average night with the orchestra. I eventually came to the realization that if I was really going to play improvised music at a high level I needed to be in a city with a bigger music scene and that studying with someone would be helpful. I ended up moving to Boston and studying contemporary improvisation and composition at the New England Conservatory (NEC), a school which a lot of my favorite players had previously attended.
How did you meet Joe and Fausto...?
It was at NEC that I met both Joe and Fausto. In my first year there I played in one of Joe's free jazz ensembles. We played music by Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Anthony Braxton and other free jazz giants. That was really my introduction to free jazz, and really opened my ears to alternate ways of structuring tunes and blowing over them.
Fausto came to NEC my second year there. I have never heard a sax player with such a wealth of skill. I think his interest in disparate styles (from Turkish music to early blues) and an immense work ethic has combined to make him a very interesting guy to play with. We began playing duo frequently and have subsequently toured and released an album. In my last year at the school I studied privately with Joe which meant improvising duo with him most weeks. That experience really pushed me to reevaluate my concept of technique and virtuosity. Mostly because Joe is such a fast and precise player that you can't help but be pushed extremely hard to keep up with him. Previously I had been uninterested in virtuosity because you see a lot of gifted players make boring musical decisions with that level of skill; with Joe it is something different, a way of getting the most musically happening that a situation can hold. We started having a lot of good sessions playing duo so Joe asked me if there were any other musicians that I thought might be able to fit into the kind of sound we were getting into. I suggested Fausto as I knew he would add something great to it. I think we played a couple times as a trio and it was really something unique so Joe suggested we record it.
What's the concept behind the album?
Well it is all improvised so that is a bit hard to put into concise words. Really, the only concept was "wow, we have something unlike any of us has heard before and we like it, so lets put it down".
How do you recreate music that is largely shaped in the moment?
I don't think you do try to recreate it. In some aspects the album launch will sound different because it's a different time and space. On the other hand, I know what Joe and Fausto are capable of playing and have a good idea of what they like to hear so we work from some common knowledge when we get together. In improvised music you need to have a lot of faith in the people your working with and know that you can trust that they will bring something to the table and work with you to shape the music into something great.
Are there future plans for the trio?
Not specifically. Fausto and I are doing an extensive tour in March as a duo and there is a chance that there may be some shows with the trio as well but the dates aren't all finalized yet.