Art Taylor – Taylor’s Wailers – Prestige/Analogue Productions CPRJ 7117SA (1957), 41:03 mono SACD [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****½:
(Art Taylor – drums; Charlie Rouse, John Coltrane – tenor sax; Jackie McLean – alto sax; Donald Byrd – trumpet; Ray Bryant, Red Garland – piano; Wendell Marshall, Paul Chambers – bass (Coltrane, Garland, and Chambers play only on “C. T. A”))
Art Taylor was a first-choice drummer for Prestige Records for their all-star “jam session” recording dates of the mid to late 1950s. On the side Taylor assembled a group called Taylor’s Wailers that was reformed in the 1990s when Art returned from a two decade stay in Europe. Included in the initial group were Donald Byrd and Charlie Rouse. Bob Weinstock, who headed Prestige was approached and gave a “thumbs-up” for Art to record the Wailers. In 1957, when The Wailers were recorded it did not create the stir that a group of this stature would generate today. Then it was just a recording date for Prestige roster musicians – most went on to super-star status.
Analogue Productions has recently re-issued Taylor’s Wailers in SACD format. Mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, mono never sounded so good. Art’s tasty drum rolls and stick work are crisp and vibrant, a real step up from the red book CD issue. The same can be said for the Rouse, McLean, and Byrd, whose center stage talents are wonderfully rendered. Witness “Cubano Chant” where McLean’s acidic alto tone and Byrd’s warm mellifluous trumpet are featured. Ray Bryant on piano is the perfect accompanist and Art provides the underpinning glue.
Monk’s “Off Minor” and “Well You Needn’t” provide bop opportunities for band members to show their bona fides. “C.T.A” is the sole track for the Philly contingent of Coltrane, Garland, and Taylor. John and Red were members of Miles Davis Quintet at the time, and as Davis was then a Prestige artist, all was well, and we get the end result with Coltrane fully featured.
We can only dream of being in the recording studio of Rudy Van Gelder when these tracks were laid down. Thanks to Analogue Productions, however, we can get as close to Rudy’s studio, as is legally permissible. For the sound quality and the band personnel, this SACD will get a lot of action on your home audiophile equipment.
TrackList: Batland, C.T.A., Exhibit A, Cubano Chant, Off Minor, Well You Needn’t