Two guitar maestros for the price of one. Many people took advantage of this bargain, to the extent that J2 was almost full (despite the day's torrential rain). In contrast to all the current TV 'talent' shows, it is good to see many people appreciating genuine musical talent, especially of an unostentatious nature, relying on the music to express the attitude.
Taylor and Simpson completely fulfilled expectations. They play in quite different styles, come from thoroughly different musical backgrounds, and are not regular partners, yet an instinctive feel for guitar music creates common ground in which they can co-create productively. They played together on tunes from each other's repertoires, as well as taking solo slots either side of the interval. Martin Taylor weaves his jazz around tunes (many self-composed) with refined elegance and continuous inventiveness, while Simpson, who sometimes also sings, combines great dexterity with a deep soulfulness, combining traditional English with traditional New Orleans influences. Since his return to England, after fifteen years of living in the United States, Simpson's mastery has been widely and rightly acknowledged in folk circles. Liittle Liza Jane, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? all featured, as did Leon Rosselson's Palaces Of Gold, learnt by Simpson from his father-in-law, Roy Bailey.
One senses the two players' complete absorption in their art. Their inspiring devotion and the gifts it brings, as much as the soothing, gently stimulating charm of their sounds, make one want to cheer loudly for the mysterious magic of music.
Writer: Rychard Carrington