Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label is know for “chamber jazz,” a kind of cool, delicate, intricate, harmonically sophisticated approach to jazz that is heavily influenced by European sensibilities. Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd, and Dave Holland are among some of the better known ECM artists.
I didn’t know 61 year-old pianist British John Taylor, but his new trio CD, Rosslyn, with double-bassist Marc Johnson (Bill Evans’ last bassist) and drumer Joey Baron (John Zorn), is perhaps my favorite jazz release thus far in ’03.
Searching, spare, but with an iron internal drive, the music creates a mood of expectant calm that ends only with the final song, “Field Day.” The term “ambient” must be used carefully with jazz lest it conjure images of vapid “smooth jazz,” but in this case the term is apt as the challenging but delicate interplay creates a palpable, arresting ambience.
This collection of stellar Tayor originals, Berlin’s standard “How Deep Is the Ocean,” and vibrant treatments of tunes by Kenny Wheeler and Ralph Towner, produced in Oslo by Eicher, is a splendid introduction to Taylor – who has recorded with John Surman, Cleo Laine, Azimuth, Jan Garbarek, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, and has been the Professor for Jazz Piano at the Cologne Music Academy – and an outstanding contribution to the ECM canon.