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Today in Music – Oct 20, 1956 – British Jazz Guitarist Martin Taylor is born!

Martin Taylor

Among the jazz artists who are celebrating their birthdays today is guitarist Martin Taylor. Taylor was born on October 20, 1956 and is the son of bassist William ‘Buck’ Taylor. After listening to his father play the music of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, Martin became inspired by the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. “Buck” set Martin’s career path early in his life, giving him his first guitar at the age of four, by the age of eight Martin was playing in his father’s band and at fifteen he quit school with the intent of becoming a professional musician. Boy has he done that and done it well!! Martin is best known for his solo fingerstyle performances, where he provides bass and chordal accompaniment as well as a melody. Throughout his career, Martin has played in groups, guitar ensembles and as an accompanist. He has recorded with musicians that are spread across many genres including: Stephane Grappelli, Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins, Bill Wyman, George Harrison, Dionne Warwick, Diane Schuur and Jamie Cullum. And those musicians can attest to his greatness….

Martin Taylor is one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument.” – Pat Metheny

“He out-shred’s all of us put together….I’ve never seen anything like it” – Jeff Beck

According to his biography at Wikipedia in the late 1970s Taylor…

was introduced to Stephane Grappelli, erstwhile violinist in Quintette du Hot Club de France with Django Reinhardt. When one of Grappelli’s regular band members sustained an injury, Taylor was invited to deputise for a few European dates. Suitably impressed, Grappelli invited him to join his band full-time. He accepted and performed and recorded with the Frenchman for the next eleven years, occupying the position once held by his idol Reinhardt.

That’s pretty cool!! The only Martin Taylor album that is in my music library is his 2000 release Gypsy an album of music in the Gypsy tradition of his hero Django…Again from Wikipedia…

Around the mid-90s Taylor started a band inspired by the music of Django Reinhardt and the Hot Club which he named Spirit of Django. He recorded and toured successfully with this band while continuing his solo commitments.


In 1992 Taylor release His ground breaking solo album ARTISTRY, which was produced by Steve Howe. The album was critically acclaimed and rose No 1 in the HMV Jazz Charts for a record 12 weeks. The album launched his career as an international solo artist. Near the end of the decade he signed for Sony, releasing two albums – ‘Kiss and Tell’ and ‘Nitelife’. Read More

After those successful albums for Sony/Columbia, Martin went on to record several albums for The Guitar Label.

In his career, Martin has received a record 14 British Jazz Awards as a guitarist, and as a composer he was nominated for “Best Contemporary Song” in the BBC Folk Awards in 2009.

The Colonel and the GovernorAs I was writing this post, I came across Martin’s last album that was released in April of this year The Colonel and the Governor, which teams Martin with another guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel. I only needed a brief lesson to that album to decide that it’s going on the iPhone!! You can watch the duo discuss the making of the album here

Now for some morning music from Martin Taylor and Tommy Emmanuel “Honeysuckle Rose”. Happy Birthday, Martin and in honor I will listen to Gypsy and The Colonel and the Governor today!!

Check more at All About Jazz and AllMusic…