Pearl Django with Martin Taylor was a sound feast. Their two hour set was at once captivating and entertaining, laid back yet complex and nuanced, with lots of interaction between the players. They have a six night stand at Jazz Alley, so if you are a lover of jazz, would highly recommend catching these guys.
The set started with Pearl Django sans Taylor, opening with a Cole Porter tune. Taylor then came out and joined the band and they played two of his compositions. The band nailed all of them – clearly they were ready to play with Taylor. They then two Django Reinhardt tunes, riffing like mad, and then a Pearl Django song – cool to hear Taylor riffing atop one of their compositions. Pearl Django then left the stage, letting Taylor do his solo thing. He is stunning as a soloist. His first song was gorgeous as it moved around, so many harmonic complexities and layers of tonality, but ultimately melodic and emotive. Then, he played "They Can't Take That Away From Me" which, if you closed your eyes, you would be convinced it sounded like two guitars the way he separated the melody from the chording so adeptly. He is a monster guitarist.
The violinist, Michael Gray, returned to the stage and played a duet with Taylor – "Jive at Five" -- a tune that Taylor played with Stephan Grappelli. After that, the rest of Pearl Django returned and played a couple more tunes, including a Charlie Chaplin tune, said to be one of Michael Jackson's favorites (?!).
Taylor's playing was mesmerizing. His solos were brilliant, never predictable, everything from single note wizardry to crazy chord voicings to who knows what. His accompaniments to Pearl Django were fascinating, adding depth and unexpected harmonics to their sound. Check out this interview with him here as he talks about the notion of storytelling through his playing. He's also a storyteller between songs, pretty funny guy.
Loved the accordion player, David Lange. His solos had a lot of character, loopy, playful, surprising.
Check out some of Taylor's music here: