Martin Taylor - There and Back

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Guitarist Martin Taylor, one of the greatest ever UK jazz guitarists, talks to Jack Massarik about coming to terms with the death of his son Stewart, calling on the help of some of his oldest musical associates to form a new band Freternity which has managed to draw out some of Martin’s most evocative playing in years. Martin Taylor - There and Back
Every life must have its highs and lows. Just ask Martin Taylor. During the past five years it has been his fate to experience total extremes of delight and devastation. In 2002 this unique guitarist's career was on a major high. Continuous years of international touring since 1978 were at last being rewarded by recognition from fans, music journalists and fellow musicians. “Martin Taylor is one of the most awesome players in the world,” wrote Pat Metheny with typical generosity. “He’s unbelievable and inspiring.” Acoustic Guitar magazine called him “the acoustic guitarist of his generation” and later that year the normally unjazzy Queen Elizabeth pinned an MBE ribbon to his chest. Paisley University, learning that he was now resident in Scotland, responded by conferring an honorary doctorate on him, an act that made him Dr Martin Taylor MBE.

Sharing in all these triumphs were his bright, bubbly Scotish wife Liz and their two sons James and Stewart. Martin had toured with Stéphane Grappelli for over 10 years and when the great violinist died in 1997, the Taylors sat down and discussed the viability of making solo-guitar concerts their bread and butter. Martin was uncertain about this career move, but Liz gave him all the confidence he needed. “Yes, Martin, do it,” she said. “I know you can do this.” James, who had married singer Alison Burns, became involved in tour management and publicity for them both while Stewart concentrated on his father’s other main interest, the turf, and began training as a jockey. One can only imagine how shocking a blow to this close-knit family was the appalling and sudden suicide of Stewart at the end of 2005.

This feature is taken from Jazzwise Issue 107 - to read the rest of this article subscribe here