James Taylor Quartet

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James Taylor Quartet
James Taylor Quartet (November 2005, Forlì, Italy)
Background information
Origin Rochester, England
Genres Acid Jazz, jazz funk
Years active 1985–present
Labels Real Self Records
Associated acts The Prisoners
Website jtq.co.uk
Members James Taylor (hammond organ, vocals)
Chris Montague (guitar)
Andrew McKinney (bass)
Adam Betts (drums)
Nick Smart (trumpet)
Yvonne Yanney (vocals)
Past members Graeme Flowers (trumpet)
Paul Carr (guitar)
David Taylor (guitar)
Dominic Glover (trumpet)
Noel McKoy (vocals)
Andrew McGuinness (drums)
Wolf Howard (drums)
Allan Crockford (bass)
Neil Robinson (drums 1992-2007)
Gary Crockett (bass 1990-2007)

The James Taylor Quartet (or JTQ) are a British four-piece jazz funk band, who have become renowned for their live performances. They were formed in 1987 by Hammond organ player James Taylor following the break-up of his former band The Prisoners[1] in the wake of Stiff Records' bankruptcy. The current line-up is James Taylor (Hammond organ), Chris Montague (guitar), Andrew McKinney (bass) and Adam Betts (drums), although recordings and live performances usually feature a horn section comprising John Willmott (tenor sax/flute) and Nick Smart (trumpet), and also vocalist Yvonne Yanney.

Film theme beginnings[edit]

The James Taylor Quartet's first single, "Blow-Up" (a funked-up version of Herbie Hancock's main theme from the seminal 1960s film of the same name), was released in 1987 on the Re Elect The President label, which would later become the Acid Jazz label. The track was championed by the NME and John Peel, appearing in Peel's Festive Fifty chart for 1987. The band's debut 7 track mini album, Mission Impossible (1987) followed and predominantly comprised covers of 1960s film themes such as "Alfie", "Mrs. Robinson" and "Goldfinger" in a rough, up-tempo, almost punk-like style, that was primarily focussed on Taylor's Hammond organ playing. Their second album, The Money Spyder (1987), was the soundtrack to an imaginary spy film, applying the band's distinctive style to Taylor's own compositions.

While promoting these albums The James Taylor Quartet developed a strong reputation as a live band, that remains to this day. The live set focuses on accessible rhythm driven music, that some classify as having elements of modern dance music, despite including a lot of improvised solos. During this period a contract with a major record led to them playing to ever increasing audiences. The band recorded their signature tune "The Theme From Starsky and Hutch" featuring Fred Wesley and Pee Wee Ellis of The JBs in 1988 and this was included on their next album "Wait A Minute" (1988). Their popularity as a live act led to the release of the live album Absolute - JTQ Live in 1991, which attempted to capture the experience of the band in concert (even though it was recorded 'live' in the studio, the audience cheering being overdubbed later).

The emergence of acid jazz[edit]

In the early 1990s the band changed direction and released a string of song-based albums to appeal to the then fashionable Soul and Acid Jazz scene in the UK. They featured vocalists such as Rose Windross of Soul II Soul, Alison Limerick and Noel McKoy. McKoy became a permanent member of the band for part of this period. The single "Love the Life" reached the Top 40 and the accompanying album Supernatural Feeling (1993) reached the top 30 in the UK charts. The next album In the Hand of the Inevitable (1995), featuring Alison Limerick as guest vocalist on three songs, saw a return to the Acid Jazz label, where it remains the label's biggest selling album.

The return to funk roots[edit]

The James Taylor Quartet in Pizza Express, Maidstone, England, December 2010, with vocalist Yvonne Yanney

Since then the James Taylor Quartet have returned to their original style of instrumental Hammond-led jazz funk workouts on albums, that have showcased the band's instrumental talents. Cover versions such as "Whole Lotta Love", "Dirty Harry" and "Jesus Christ Superstar"' are still recorded in the same spirit as the band's debut "Blow-Up" single, but the albums are mainly original compositions. Live gigs regularly feature a vocalist and showcase songs from the soul period of the band. They received a Music of Black Origin nomination for their second live album Whole Lotta Live (1998).

Collaborations and other projects[edit]

The James Taylor Quartet produced a bona-fide film theme of their own, when they contributed to the soundtrack of the first Austin Powers film. As well as their own recordings, James Taylor and members of the quartet have collaborated with Tom Jones on the duets album Reload and featured on records by The Wonder Stuff, Manic Street Preachers, The Pogues, Kingmaker and U2. They were also the house band on Gaby Roslin's short-lived Channel 4 chat show.

In the late 1990s, James Taylor began composing and recording library music for the Bruton Music company. A series of releases were made available for use by the media industry in TV advertisements, programmes, films etc. As this material is not available for sale to the general public it is sought after by completist, diehard fans.

The James Taylor Quartet have also released three albums under the name New Jersey Kings. These are similar in style to the core funky Hammond sound of JTQ, but have tended to be recorded live in the studio resulting in a more natural yet raw sound.

Some performances during 2005 included an augmented horn section and have been promoted as the James Taylor Funk Orchestra. During 2005 Nigel Price (guitar) replaced David Taylor.


JTQ releases
  • Mission: Impossible (Re–Elect The President REAGAN 2, 1987; Acid Jazz JAZID-82, 1993)
  • The Money Spyder (Re–Elect The President KENNEDY 1, 1987; Acid Jazz JAZID-81, 1993)
  • The First Sixty Four Minutes (Re–Elect The President CARTER 1, 1988) [re-package of Mission: Impossible and The Money Spyder; 2LP-on-1CD]
  • Wait A Minute (Urban/Polydor 837340, 1988)
  • Get Organized (Urban/Polydor 839405, 1989)
  • Mon Oncle: The BBC Sessions (recorded 1989) – with Paul Francis Bass
  • Do Your Own Thing (Urban/Polydor 843797, 1990)
  • Absolute – JTQ Live (Big Life BLRCD-13; Polydor 511573, 1991) [studio recording with added-on "live" crowd sounds]
  • Supernatural Feeling (Big Life BLRCD-21; Polydor 519190, 1993) – with Noel McKoy
  • Extended Play (Acid Jazz JAZID-110, 1994) – 6-song EP/CD single
  • The BBC Sessions (Nighttracks CDNT-010, 1995; Strange Fruit SFRSCD-043, 1997)
  • In The Hand Of The Inevitable (Acid Jazz JAZID-115, 1995)
  • (A Few Useful Tips About) Living Underground (Acid Jazz JAZID-140, 1996)
  • Creation (Acid Jazz [USA] AJ-68054, 1997)
  • Whole Lotta Live 1998 (JTI Records JTICD-002, 1998)
  • Blow Up! – A JTQ Collection (Music Club MCCD-333, 1998) – compilation
  • The Best Of The Acid Jazz Years (Acid Jazz [Japan] PMDI-01346, 1999) – compilation
  • Penthouse Suite [live] (Acid Jazz AJXCD-117, 1999)
  • A Bigger Picture (Gut Records GUTCD-10, 1999)
  • Swinging London: The Library Sessions (Bruton Music PLRCD-019, 2000) [only 12 tracks selected from the 16 track Bruton Music Library release]
  • Message From The Godfather (Ubiquity URCD-085, 2001)
  • Espionage: The Very Best Of The James Taylor Quartet (Metro METRCD-069, 2001) – compilation
  • Check It Out: Best Of The Acid Jazz Years (Recall/Snapper Music SMDCD-338, 2001) [2CD] – compilation
  • The Collection (Spectrum/Universal 544519, 2001) – compilation
  • Hammond–Ology: The Best of the James Taylor Quartet (Sanctuary SANDD-099, 2001) [2CD] – compilation
  • Room at the Top (Sanctuary SANCD-117, 2002)
  • The Oscillator (Rootdown ROOT-9009, 2003)
  • A Taste of Cherry (Real Self RS-5345, 2006)
  • James Taylor's 4th Dimension: Picking Up Where We Left Off (Real Self RS-5346, 2007)
  • Don't Mess With Mr. T – James Taylor Quartet Plays Motown (Dome DOMECD-86, 2007)
  • Live At The Jazz Cafe (Real Self RS-4321, 2008)
  • New World (Real Self RS-5678, 2009)
  • The Template (ChinChin [Germany] AC-2064, 2011) – JTQ's 25th anniversary release
  • Closer To The Moon! (Real Self RS-4334, 2013)
  • Hammond A Go–Go: The Best Of Acid Jazz (Not Bad Records BAD2CD-014, 2014) [2CD]
  • The Rochester Mass (Cherry Red CDBRED-672, 2015)
  • Bumpin' On Frith Street – Live At Ronnie Scott's (Gearbox RSGB-1002, 2016)
New Jersey Kings releases
  • Party To The Bus Stop (Acid Jazz JAZID-33, 1992)
  • Stratosphere Breakdown (Acid Jazz JAZID-123, 1995)
  • Uzi Lover (JTI Records JTICD-003, 2001)
JTI Records 'various artists sampler' release
  • Scored 1 – 0 (JTICD-001, 1996) [artists include... JTQ, The Whole Thing, Sunchaser, The Family Affair, Simon Bartholomew's Akimbo, The Prisoners, The Apostles, David Taylor Group, New Jersey Kings, Afroshock, The Persuaders, Ulf Sandberg Trio]
Bruton Music Library releases
  • Retro Acid Jazz: 1960s–1970s Funky, Cool, Groovy Acid Jazz Featuring The James Taylor Quartet (BRH-67, 1995)
  • Swinging London (BRH-102, 2000) [16 full tracks, 48 tracks with commercial cuts included]
  • James Taylor Quartet Presents... The Hustle: Low-Down And Dirty Retro Jazz Funk Soundtracks (BR-420, 2004)
  • James Taylor Quartet Presents... The Cinema Sessions: Funk Orchestral Soundtrack (BR-467, 2007) [2CD]


External links[edit]