CULTURE

Late but here, James Taylor Quartet is ready for action

Loyal friends keep promises, and the James Taylor Quartet, an act with a keen and considerable fan base here, is set to make up for lost ground. The act, one of the local circuit’s more regular international touring bands over the past decade, will be making amends for a postponed show early last December with a rescheduled show this Saturday night at the Rodon Club in Athens. The venue is familiar turf for the James Taylor Quartet, which has returned to the club several times since exploding onto the UK’s dance circuit in the late 1980s at the forefront of that period’s well-received acid-jazz scene. Essentially, the movement revived the previous decade’s heady fusion of funk, soul and jazz, a style mastered by many of the period’s Afro-American acts, for younger listeners. But the James Taylor Quartet did inject added pugnacity to the generally smoother Afro-American musical form. The band, which has actually grown into at least a sextet for its performances these days, but held on to the original name, will be returning with a new album, «Room at the Top.» It includes a guest session from veteran jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers, nowadays regarded as an «acid-jazz prophet.» Ayers, whose career stretches back to the 1960s, has tended to brush aside the iconic status often bestowed on him by younger listeners with the reservation of a weathered veteran and survivor of a rough business. «I’m having fun with it,» he has said. «I don’t mind what they call me, that’s what people do in this industry.» Returning to the James Taylor Quartet, this furiously frenetic act – particularly during its live shows – was founded in the mid-1980s by band leader James Taylor, a master of the Hammond organ, which dominates the band’s action-packed sound. It conjures up frantic imagery straight out of American «cop movies,» which is not accidental, considering the frontman’s viewing habits as a youngster. Taylor grew up as an addicted fan of the popular American television cop series «Starsky and Hutch» in the 1970s, absorbing both the action and musical backup. Despite commonly being referred to as an «acid-jazz» act, along with other peers of the movement such as Corduroy and Galliano, Taylor has rejected the term as inappropriate and a little too reserved for his band’s sophisticated yet more aggressive style. The term «acid jazz» was coined by a British journalist in his attempt to define the James Taylor Quartet’s sound when it emerged with 1987’s debut album «Mission Impossible.» «Rude, hard funk – like all the Blaxploitation movies and cop shows – that’s what we’re aiming for,» Taylor remarked in an older interview. «Really, instead of calling our music ‘acid jazz,’ it’s more accurate to call it ‘cop funk.’ Yes, that’s it – we’re cop funk.»